St. Benedict, Sarabaites, and a Good Rule to Live By

St. Benedict delivering the rule

Before he gets into the details of his rule of life for monks, St. Benedict speaks of the kind of monk that none of his disciples should be:

In their works, they still keep faith with the world…They live without a shepherd…in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord’s. Their law is their desire for self-gratification: whatever enters their mind or appeals to them, that they call holy; what they dislike, they regard as unlawful.

Now, the life of the other kind of monk—the diligent, faithful, obedient one; the invisible one who quietly changes the sheets of the guest-room beds and washes the commodes before the sun rises, and then sings the psalms with the brothers in the chapel with a heart full of joy—the faithful monk’s life teaches us, better than anything else, what our Christian lives must be like.

Our goal is to reach the antithesis of what St. Benedict condemns. The greatest trap for any soul is to believe that what I will is what God wills. The greatest freedom is actually to will what God wills. The temptation is to regard as God’s those things that I like. The liberation is to like God’s actual things.

The way from the one to the other does not involve rocket science. No one needs special genius to follow the path from self-centeredness to other-centeredness. The way from calling my will God’s to willing what God wills is simple: Living for years, decades–an entire lifetime–as a humble son or daughter of Mother Church, going every Sunday to Mass and every month to Confession.

I do not claim to have any spiritual insight whatsoever. I certainly am not holy enough to lay down any rules. But I guarantee that this method will work. Doubt nothing that the Church teaches. Go to Mass every Sunday. Go Confession every month. Fifty to sixty years of this will do a person a great deal of spiritual good.

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