July 11: Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, c. 540

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

###

About this commemoration

Benedict of Nursia

Benedict is generally accounted the father of western monasticism. He was born about 480, at Nursia in central Italy, and was educated at Rome. The style of life he found there disgusted him. Rome at this time was overrun by various barbarian tribes; the period was one of considerable political instability, a breakdown of western society, and the beginnings of barbarian kingdoms. Benedict’s disapproval of the manners and morals of Rome led him to a vocation of monastic seclusion. He withdrew to a hillside cave above Lake Subiaco, about forty miles west of Rome, where there was already at least one other monk. Gradually, a community grew up around Benedict. Sometime between 525 and 530, he moved south with some of his disciples to Monte Cassino, midway between Rome and Naples, where he established another community, and, about 540, composed his monastic Rule. He does not appear to have been ordained or to have contemplated the founding of an “order.” He died sometime

between 540 and 550 and was buried in the same grave as his sister, Scholastica.
No personality or text in the history of monasticism, it has been said, has occasioned more studies than Benedict and his rule. The major problem for historians is the question of how much of the rule is original. This is closely related to the question of the date of another, very similar but anonymous, rule for monks, known as the “Rule of the Master,” which may antedate Benedict’s Rule by ten years. This does not detract from the fact that Benedict’s firm but reasonable rule has been the basic source document from which most later monastic rules were derived. Its average day provides for a little over four hours to be spent in liturgical prayer, a little over five hours in spiritual reading, about six hours of work, one hour for eating, and about eight hours of sleep.
The entire Psalter is to be recited in the Divine Office once every week. At profession, the new monk takes vows of “stability, amendment of life, and obedience.” Pope Gregory the Great wrote Benedict’s “Life” in the second book of his Dialogues. He adopted Benedict’s monasticism as an instrument of evangelization when in 596 he sent Augustine and his companions to convert the Anglo-Saxon people. In the Anglican Communion today, the rules of many religious orders are influenced by Benedict’s rule.
Collects
I Almighty and everlasting God, whose precepts are the
wisdom of a loving Father: Give us grace, following the
teaching and example of thy servant Benedict, to walk
with loving and willing hearts in the school of the Lord’s
service; let thine ears be open unto our prayers; and
prosper with thy blessing the work of our hands; through
Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II Almighty and everlasting God, your precepts are the
wisdom of a loving Father: Give us grace, following the
teaching and example of your servant Benedict, to walk
with loving and willing hearts in the school of the Lord’s
service; let your ears be open to our prayers; and prosper
with your blessing the work of our hands; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Lessons
Proverbs 2:1–9
Philippians 2:12–16
Luke 14:27–33
Psalm 119:129–136
Preface of a Saint (2)

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

###

Links Related to Benedict of Nursia

Order of St. Benedict

St. Gregory’s Abbey, Three Rivers, Michigan

Friends of St. Benedict

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

If you’d like to participate in the official online trial use survey, click here. For more information about the survey, click here.

To post a comment, your first and last name and email address are required. Your name will be published; your email address will not. The first time you post, a moderator will need to approve your submission; after that, your comments will appear instantly.

5 Responses to July 11: Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, c. 540

  1. Celinda Scott says:

    The bio and readings are just as in the 1997 Lesser Feasts
    and Fasts, very helpful. I imagine Benedict of Nursia
    has been on the calendar for a long time. How he
    responded to his disappointment with the
    deteriorating culture of his day is good to read about now.

  2. John Robison says:

    An excellent commemoration and bio. Benedict has left his mark on the entire Western Church and it is benedictine Spirituality that shapes classical Anglicanism. Making sure to mention that there is no evidence of his ordination helps us understand the nature of what he was doing. This is a key commemoration for the Catholic and Reformed faith of Anglicans. I enjoy saying his office tomorrow.

  3. Harry Grace says:

    An excellent nominee for LFF.

  4. Nigel Renton says:

    Line 13, first paragraph: substitute “composing his monastic Rule there about 540” for “and, about 540, composed his monastic Rule”.

  5. Pingback: July 11 – Benedict of Nursia : St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: