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'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 is getting faster and noisier. We are surrounded by opinions and arguments, shouted ever louder. Can we find the eye of the storm, the place where are not driven by the wind and waves of our distracted minds?
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 surely this is for hooded figures in secluded cloisters - what relevance can it have for us, in our busy daily lives?
The Rule of St Benedict, written centuries before any split in the church between Catholics and Anglicans, has endured because of its relevance to everyone. It seeks to answer that hard question - how do we actually live out the values of the gospel 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.
The answer given by St Benedict is to place Christ at the centre of all things - 'the love of Christ must come before all else', as the 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.
That 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 Christ dwelling 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. People of all faiths and none are welcome to look around and 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.
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stbenedict.co.uk is an independent ecumenical 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.