Monday, July 11, 2005

The Rule of St. Benedict

St. Benedict's feast day is almost over, but I'll post this nonetheless...

I took a very interesting and thoughtful medieval history class last year from a Jewish professor. When I say it was medieval history, I really mean it was Church history, and an insightful one at that. One of her theses in the class was that while many (if not most) historians believe the Magna Carta was the most important document of the Middle Ages, she thinks the Rule of St. Benedict was. Why? There are several reasons. First, obviously, it helped preserve scholarly works. Second, it was written, arranged and presented in such a way that many men felt compelled to enter the monastery because of it (or, to put it another way, it encouraged vocations). Third, it served as the basis for most other rules to be developed. Fourth, it could - and was - easily translated and adapted for use by lay people of the day. It wasn't that they followed the Rule per se, but that the Rule deeply influenced society's thought and even had an impact on the structure of society. Her last argument is confirmed even today. At Mass tonight, our priest preached on the importance of St. Benedict's motto "work and pray" in our lives today.