July 11, 2011

Feast of St. Benedict

I always think that the feast of St. Benedict ought to have a little more liturgical solemnity for us Franciscans. Benedict's day is ranked a memorial in our calendar, just as it is generally.

Maybe it's whatever it is that makes my first priest insist (to this day) that I'm supposed to be a Benedictine (and maybe some of my Capuchin confreres would agree with him, I don't know), but it seems to me that anyone who lives or takes inspiration from the tradition of religious life in the western Church has an enormous debt to St. Benedict.

This isn't really an area where I have a lot of expertise, but it seems to me that Benedict's gift to religious life was to hold up the common life as having a certain dignity in its own right. For him, the cenobitic life was not just a less-than form compared to the ideal of the hermit-monk. Indeed, the eremetic life presupposed the common life which would be the ordinary school of holiness and salvation for those taking up the religious life.

Francis, in his devotion or arrogance, or maybe both, desired to live such a religious life in common at the maximally general level, calling every created thing his sister or brother.

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