Feast Day of Saint Benedict – March 21

After founding twelve communities of monks at Subiaco, Italy, Benedict of Norcia (480 AD – 21 March 547) traveled to Montecassino where he established a monastery and wrote “The Rule.” This simple set of guidelines for how the life of a monk should be lived has become one of the most influential works in all of Western Christendom.

St Benedict & change

Harassed constantly by enemies who resented his growing popularity and the changes he wrought, Benedict moved constantly on, developing new monasteries, extending his vision, speaking his truth. At the summit of Monte Cassino, Italy, the area that would eventually become the largest monastery and the center of his order, he discovered a flourishing temple to the Roman god of war, Apollo.

He spared no time, brooked no cautions, temporized with nothing, and coaxed no one. He simply did what had to be done and led his world readjust to the stark new reality. He destroyed the statues and overturned the altars; dedicated the site to Martin of Tours, the Christian soldier pacifist who refused to kill; and, where the statue of the god of war once stood, he built a chapel in honor of John the Baptist.

After a period of time, the people of the countryside were won over by his zealous preaching. There was apparently no politicking here, no patient persuasion, no pleading, no begging for support and understanding. Just this: Where a vision long dead, well stale, and clearly limiting had been, he brought new voice, new life, new direction.

The challenges to our own lives are clear and unsettling ones:

There are some things in life so serious that they must be confronted directly.

The idols of life must be overturned.

Change is hard and change is slow but there can be no change at all until people are confronted with a new vision.

Change does not come in life by hoping for it. It comes when we do it.

(Source: The Radical Christian Life: A Year with Saint Benedict by Joan Chittister, Liturgical Press)

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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