Thursday, July 11, 2019

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Benedict, Father of Western Monasticism (480-547)

Readings of the Day
RB: Ch 33 Monks and Private Ownership
Mass: For the Solemnity of St Benedict: Pr 2:1-9; Resp Ps 34; Mt 19:27-29
For Ferial Day: Gn 44:18-21, 23b-29; 45:1-5; Resp Ps 105; Mt 10:7-15

Taste and see the goodness of God.

In the 1964 Apostolic Letter Pacis Nuntius, Pope St Paul VI proclaimed St Benedict as the principal patron of Europe (Benedict leads the other patron saints of Europe who include Sts Cyril and Methodius, St Brigid of Sweden, St Catherine of Siena, and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) giving him the illustrious titles of messenger of peace, creator of unity, teacher of civility, and above all the herald of the religion of Christ and the founder of western monasticism! It is no wonder we celebrate our holy father St Benedict. May God be praised!

It is fitting and right on this day that we turn to the Rule of St Benedict for reflection. I encourage you to read the chapter assigned for today, Ch 33, "Monks and Private Ownership" and reflect on how it may apply to your life at home, work, school, or in community. In that chapter, St Benedict tells us that no one may presume to give, receive, or retain anything as her own (33:2-3). It is helpful to read the chapter in light of some of the qualifications of the monastery cellarer in Ch 31. A cellarer is one who, broadly speaking, in St Benedict's time, was in charge of the provisions of the monastery. A contemporary cellarer may be like a friend of mine who is the COO for a 400 person law firm. She once said that at the end of the day, she has to be sure the lights are turned out. Among other qualifications, the cellarer is to be wise, mature in conduct, temperate, and not wasteful (31:1). She must show every care and concern for the sick, children, guests, and the poor; she will take care of everything and regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar (31:9-10). She should perform the duties of her office calmly and ensure that no one may be disquieted or distressed in the house of God (31: 17-19). Who would be the cellarer or cellarers in your house or work environment?

In Ch 32, "The Tools and Goods of the Monastery", St Benedict tells us that we are to keep the things belonging to the monastery clean and treat them with care (32:4). In Ch 34, "Distribution of Goods according to Need", Benedict begins by quoting from the Acts of the Apostles (4:35). Distribution was made to each as he had need. Furthermore, whoever needs less should thank God and not be distressed, but whoever needs more should feel humble because of her weakness, not self-important because of the kindness shown to her. In this way all members will be at peace (34:3-5).

We return to private ownership. All things should be the common possession of all, as it is written, so that no one presumes to call anything her own (Acts 4:32/RB 33:6). 

Now with a few questions: How do I care for the material goods in "my" possession? What about the people I live with, work with, or am in relationship with? How do I care for and respect them? What about my body? Do I care for and respect it? What about my needs and wants? How do I give? How do I receive? 

Living and true God, help us to be people of peace, unity, and civility. May our way of acting be different from the world's way, and may our love of Christ come before all else (4:20-21). 

As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God's commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.
(RB Prologue 49)


Today's photo: Beginning today we will enjoy scenes from our garden. See the beauty of some of our red pears in process. Taste and see the goodness of God!

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