Wednesday, July 11, 2007

St. Benedict - Founder of Western Monasticism - 480-543

A statue in Italy depicts St. Benedict at his death. He died standing, with his arms outstretched, following Holy Communion.

"If thou art truly a servant of God, chain thyself not with a chain of iron but with a chain of Christ."
- St. Benedict's words to a monk who chained himself to a rock.

On this day we honor St. Benedict. This saint lived a truly inspiring life full of holiness, miracles, and prophecies. He was the brother of St. Scholastica. I just read a wonderful, thorough piece on EWTN's website which profiles his life along with some of the amazing miracles he is known for, as well as the prophecies, which included knowledge of his own death some six days before hand.


From the book Benedictus by Magnificat:

By a long and difficult journey, which began in a cave near Subiaco, the man Benedict has climbed up the mountain and finally up the tower. His life has been an inner climb, step by step, up the "vertical ladder." He has reached the tower and, then, the "upper room," which from the time of the Acts of the Apostles has been understood as a symbol of being brought together and drawn up, rising up out of the world of making and doing. He is standing at the window - he has sought and found the place where he can look out, where the wall of the world has been opened up and he can gaze into the open. He is standing.

In monastic tradition, someone standing represents a man who has straightened himself up from being crouched and doubled up and is thus, not only able to stare at the earth, but he has achieved upright status and the aiblity to look up. Thus he becomes a seer. It is not the world that is narrowed down but the soul that is broadened out, being no longer absorbed in the particular, no longer looking at the trees and unable to see the wood, but now able to view the whole. Even better, he can see teh whole because he is looking at it from on high, and he is able to gain this vantage point because he has grown inwardly great....He has to stand at the window. He must gaze out. And then thelight of God can touch him; he can recognize it and can gain from it the true overview...Those great men who, by patient climbing and by repeated purification they have received in their lives, have become seers and, therefore, pathfinders for the centuries are also relevant to us today.

  1. St. Benedict of Nursia with excerpts from his Rule (EWTN library)
  2. St. Benedict (Women for Faith & Family)
  3. Rule of St. Benedict explained (Catholic Encyclopedia)
  4. New Traditional Religious Order of Benedictine Nuns in Kansas City

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