I’ve been trying all morning to write a post for the Feast of St Benedict. I realise that the text of the Rule of St Benedict just bristles with meaning for me and this makes it hard to know just where to start. I have narrowed myself down to just two thoughts.
The first is connected with the image above of a trellis supporting the roses. The Latin word for Rule, regula, has a range of meanings. It can be used in the sense of a basic principle or guide, it can also mean rod, bar or rail. I’d like to think that St Benedict had all of these in mind when he wrote his ‘Little Rule of Beginners.’ It’s usual for newcomers to a monastery to see the Rule of St Benedict as a list of regulations and to focus on all the things that you can’t do. I prefer to see the Rule rather as a trellis, a support to help us grow and flower.
My second thought is the title of this post ‘The Way of Life’. These words are from v.20 of the Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict. In v.14 St Benedict sets the scene:
‘Seeking his workman in a multitude of people, the Lord calls out to him and lifts his voice again: Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?’
The monastic path is about life in all its fullness. We are given an invitation, an invitation which is hard to refuse. We are not promised that it will be easy, but we are promised that it will bring life.
19 What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling us? 20 See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.
I’ve always heard these verses as loving encouragement. God points out the way for us and we, with trust and courage, respond.