'There are times when even good words are to be left unsaid, out of esteem for silence.'
- The Rule of St Benedict, Chapter 6
We live in a world that seems to be getting ever faster and noisier. We are surrounded by the opinions and arguments of others, welcome or not. How often do we find time for silence and stillness, a space to find ourselves amidst the distractions around us?
For over 1500 years the Christian monastic tradition has provided a place of retreat, where people can find God, both in the people around them and in the silence of their hearts.
But we tend to think that the tradition of prayer and contemplation practised by monks can only be for those hooded figures in secluded cloisters - what relevance can it have for us, in our busy daily lives?
The Rule of St Benedict was indeed written for monastic communities, but it has endured because of its relevance to all communities. It seeks to answer that hard question - how do we actually live out the gospel values in our community - family, workplace and parish? 'Love your neighbour' might be fine in the abstract sense, but, as we all know, every community contains people with whom we struggle, situations that are hard to resolve.
The answer given by St Benedict is to place Christ at the centre of all things - 'prefer nothing to the love of Christ', as his Rule says. Visitors, the poor and the sick, your brothers and sisters - all are to be treated as Christ.
This may sound unattainable, a counsel of perfection.
This is why St Benedict also places continual prayer at the heart of community life. The ultimate purpose of all prayer is to enter into relationship with Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus be drawn into union with the Father, and share in the divine life. Unless we develop a relationship with the Christ we find within us, we will never see him in others.
stbenedict.co.uk aims to help anyone seeking the stillness, silence and commitment to prayer of the Benedictine monastic tradition to find it in their own lives.
You are welcome to spend time in this 'online cloister' - we hope it will encourage you to make time and space to find Christ within you, in the silence of your heart.
If you want to be notified of new reflections and other content, you are welcome to subscribe here:
stbenedict.co.uk is an independent venture. We are not affiliated with the English Benedictine Congregation or any particular abbey. We aim to be an online resource for anyone seeking more information about the Benedictine way.