Pastor’s letter for July 17, 2016: St. Benedict for Our Times
Last Sunday was certainly an “Edmonds kind of day.” I took the opportunity after the Masses to ride my bike to Mukilteo and back along Olympic View Drive. I really enjoyed the ride through the beautiful forest area on Olympic View Dr. My mind went back to Shaw Island where I recently lived. The Island is only six miles long so the bike rides I took were not that extensive and I eventually started kayaking, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting out on the water. Shaw is a beautiful place and I enjoyed my time there. I was chaplain to Our Lady of the Rock Monastery and the nuns who follow the Rule of St. Benedict. St Benedict’s motto is “Ora et Labora” (Prayer and Work) and that was pretty much my life while I lived there. I was a farm hand and handyman for the nuns.
This past week was St. Benedict’s feast day (July 11) and I thought of the great figure he was in promoting the Gospel in his time, which happened to be a dark time of great uncertainty. He straddled the 5th and 6th centuries; the world was overturned by tremendous crises of values and institutions caused by the collapse of the Roman Empire, the invasion of new peoples and the decay of morals. St. John Paul II called Benedict “A luminous star pointing the way out of the black night of history.” Indeed, our own time seems to be marked by its own moral, cultural and institutional crises and decay.
In the midst of outer turmoil and crisis Benedict looked within and believed that the “Search for God” has to be the foundation of life. He also believed that there is no way to experience God and peace without prayer. Benedict proposed a different way than the facile and egocentric self-fulfillment proposed by pagan or secular ideologies. His path was marked out by a humble obedience to Christ whose love must be before all else. The disciple of Christ becomes a servant and an instrument of peace. True self-fulfillment is therefore conformity to Christ, and being made into a new creation in the image and likeness of God. Benedict’s Rule, which is now 1500 years old, is essentially “Christocentric” and places great emphasis on personal love of Christ.
P.S. – Pope Francis’ new document on Marriage and the Family, The Joy of Love: Amoris Laetitia, is now available. At the Parish Office we have a limited supply, which are available on a first-come first-served basis. We are planning a study group this fall, so drop by to pick up your copy.