Today is the memorial day for Saint Benedict, for those of us in the United States and who are Catholic. You can find more about him by going to this website, http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saintofDay/ (you will have to look him up if you are not clicking this one on Monday, July 11th, 2016). I find him a very fascinating individual, only based on his story, and the fact that even today, the Benedictine Federation and the Cistercians still follow his prescriptions, what became known as The Rule, in liturgical prayer, labor, and community living.
According to accounts written about him, Benedict struck out to be a hermit at first. He was born into a distinguished family it Italy, yet he had a need to leave a depressing world. At that time, there were armies trying to invade, pagans were seemingly all over the place, the Church was being split over just about everything you could think of, and the morality of the world in general was at a low point. I can relate to that, and it sounds like a familiar story. I mean, I think you could put this same description of what is going on in our modern society, and to be honest, some days I want to run away and be a hermit. It sounds like it would be so much easier. I know, I feel like that when the news gets overwhelming, or when things start to get really rough around me. I want to isolate myself.
Just like Saint Benedict, who found out that no matter where you run, life will find you, I realize that being a hermit does not solve anything at all. It does not keep the world’s wolves from howling and having an impact on your life. Even hiding away in the mountains, he still had people following him and choosing him as a leader. I am not one that is looking for a following, nor do I have a secret to prayer life or rules for living, but I have a family who relies on me no matter what. Even before then, there was someone or some thing that needed me to be engaged in life, not shirking away from it. But that is not just it, we have to also realize that people are also watching us, even if we don’t want them to.
What a responsibility that is? If we call ourselves Christians, and we understand that people are watching us, at all times, how tall of an order is that? With this realization, we have to be mindful of how we operate in the world. Do we back down when the times get bleak, or do we instead show how mercy and love bring us to a better life? Do we try to emulate the teaching of our Father by showing love to our neighbors, no matter their status or background? Do we show love even when those of us around us fall, by being stern in our ways, yet showing Grace at the same time? It seems hard, of course, but if we keep working at it, eventually this will be easy.