Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Work and Prayer

St. Benedict of Nursia, Abbot (July 11)

The Rule of life that St. Benedict developed for the monks who placed themselves in his care still lasts today as one of Christianity's finest achievements.

Its hallmark is something that many of us crave and lack: balance. In his rule everything has its time and place, and each thing is kept in its proper relation to all the other things. Though it was developed for a monastery, its underlying concern for balance makes it applicable in a special way to people living in the day-to-day world. It's our sort of life that is especially prone to imbalance and disharmony. With adaptation, the rule will help anyone to be a better disciple of Christ. For example, the fifth of the seventy three brief chapters is on obedience. It discusses the virtues of swift and willing obedience over grudging compliance to one's superiors. Those of us outside a cloister haven't got superiors... or have we? I am not under vows, but I am under a contract to a boss. It's not the same thing, but in a day-to-day way, it's not so difference. A homemaker might not have a visible boss, but she has got visible duties that she can either carry out decisively or lackadaisically.

Another underlying concern of the Rule that makes it eminently suited for people in the "real world" is that it is very practical. In chapter 34, it considers whether all are to receive the same portions of food. It answers that no distinction should be made among persons by rank, but only by need, such as sickness. It gives the very practical spiritual advice that those who receive less should be grateful for not being ill and not needing more, while those who receive more should let it be a sign of their weakness and thus humble them rather than make them arrogant.

The whole arrangement of practical balance is intended to create an interior life that is conducive to productivity and peace, prayer and praise of God. Those of us who don't have monastery walls to protect us from the slings and arrows of the world all the more need an interior life that will fortify us. For that purpose, I can think of no better reading than the Rule of St. Benedict. Take a minute and look it up at God bless.

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