In today’s gospel we learn that in hastening toward the kingdom of Heaven we must travel lightly, being freed of all that burdens us.
Today is also the feast of St. Benedict. St. Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome and yet he wasn’t happy until he discovered monastic life. He left Rome and became a hermit, leaving a mad world—pagan barbarians overrunning the cities, the Church torn by schism and confusion, people suffering from illness and war, and immorality at its lowest. Much like our own world today.
Benedict moved to the mountains where some other monks chose him as their leader for a while, but these lukewarm monks soon found his rule too much for their tastes, so they plotted to poison him. The story goes that as Benedict blessed the pitcher of poisoned wine, it shattered.
Thereafter Benedict left those wannabe monks and established monasteries south of Rome. Later, he moved to Monte Cassino, eighty miles southeast of Rome. It was there that he wrote the Rule for monks and nuns, that is still in use to this day and has earned him the tile the Father of Western Monasticism.
The Rule outlines a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor and living together in community under a common father or abbot. Benedictine tradition is known for its moderation and charity for the poor and pilgrims.
Benedict calls his Rule “a little rule for beginners.” The first words of the Rule is LISTEN. "Listen with the ear of your heart." He exhorts us as does the Psalmist: “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.”
In it he sought to lay down “nothing too harsh or burdensome…where the love of Christ must come before all else.” And tried to arrange everything “so that so that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak have nothing to run from,” “That in all things God may be glorified.”
Benedict writes: “Your way of acting should be different from the way of the world. Therefore never nurse a grudge and never give a hollow greeting of peace. Desire eternal life with all your passion. And never despair of God's mercy.”
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Therefore let us pray, as did Benedict: “May we learn to prefer nothing to the love of Christ. And may He bring us all to life everlasting life.” (RB73.11-12).
Prayers of the Faithful
For the church and her shepherds: that they may have the strength to lovingly tend to the flock entrusted to their care by Jesus, we pray to the Lord….
For all those who serve in public office and those who assist them in promoting the common good, let us pray to the Lord…
For our own community: that we might prefer nothing to the Love of Christ so that together we might share eternal life, we pray to the Lord
For the sick and suffering, those who suffer from mental illness, and the elderly who suffer from isolation, that they may be strengthened by our love of them as brothers and sisters, we pray to the Lord….
We pray for all those who have died in the peace of Christ, and all the dead, whose faith is known to you alone, we pray to the Lord….