Our Lady and Sheen

Benedictine Spirituality

Over the last few months, I have had cause to examine my feelings towards the spirituality of different Orders (as a broad term) within Holy Mother Church.  The Jesuit spirituality is on one level, the Dominican is on another, etc., each with their own charism.  I had the luxury of being brought up at Penn State by Benedictine priests, and have visited three abbeys, each different within the “OSB” grouping.

While trying to explain to someone how I felt about the spirituality of Benedictines, I kept trying to get the words out of my mouth to the definition that Benedictine spirituality seemed “natural,” or “like a ground spring.”  All of my definitions have felt inadequate. Michael Casey, OCSO, explains monastic life in a much better way.  Because he is a follower of the Rule of St. Benedict, his version of monastic life is what I was trying to find:

Those who embrace the monastic means as the determining elements in their behavior gradually acquire a new identity.  This is something that grows from within.  It is not a temporary phase that will soon be abandoned.  This monastic identity accompanies monks and nuns wherever they go, whatever they do.

Because Benedictine monasticism is the oldest form of monastic community in Western Christianity, it did not have a direct “reason” for its existence, like the Dominicans or Jesuits.  Instead the “reason” for these monks was to pursue a life of holiness.  That life of holiness takes on different forms.  To support themselves the monks took on different tasks.  Some monasteries run schools, others universities, others stay with more traditional farming, some observe stricter silence than others, and some provide iPhones as a tool for their brothers.  No matter what kind of monastery you visit, you find that the spirituality of the place feels natural, unforced, and driven towards God.

If you are interested in reading more by Michael Casey, please purchase his book here or here for Kindle.

Note: I have had the fortune of going to abbeys which did not offend good Christian values, there may be some that have fallen away from the path.  So, please know going into it, that if you visit a monastery, every community is different.


April 11, 2012 - Posted by | Book Review | , , , ,

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