Before my conversion to Orthodoxy, I spent days in solitude and on retreats at Benedictine monasteries in New Mexico, Arizona and California. I have always liked St. Benedict. But my steady diet of Eastern monastic life and saints has left me wondering about St. Benedict’s life and Rule. St. Benedict’s Rule is followed in the West. It is largely disregarded in the East even though it was inspired by the writings of Saint John Cassian, Saint Basil the Great, and other Fathers. So this morning I flipped pages in the Prologue and found that he was born in Italy in 480 to rich and eminent parents. His life says that he did not persevere long in his schooling realizing that he could lose, as he said, ‘the great understanding of my soul.’ He was severe with himself but gentle with others. I love this trait but see the opposite in myself.
All I really know about his Rule is that the monastery is to treat every guest as Christ Himself. I am very interested in reading his Rule. Anyone got an extra copy?
He is remembered every year on March 14. Here is a short life of St. Benedict:
This Saint, whose name means “blessed,” was born in 480 in Nursia, a small town about seventy miles northeast of Rome. He struggled in asceticism from his youth in deserted regions, where his example drew many who desired to emulate him. Hence, he ascended Mount Cassino in Campania and built a monastery there. The Rule that he gave his monks became a pattern for monasticism in the West; because of this, he is often called the first teacher of monks in the West. He reposed in 547.