River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Methodist Newsletter

June 2005

Matt ponders on the efficacy of a Benedictine Monastery

I had been pondering what I should write about for this month's article and had a Eureka moment when watching the new BBC 2 series 'Monastery'. It is places five men, who want to think more about God, in a Benedictine monastery for forty days to see what will happen to them; a successful businessman, a Cambridge PhD student, an ex-protestant paramilitary, a retired teacher and a advertising consultant. They must do everything the monks do, six services, manual labour, periods of silence and learn to belong to the community. It will be interesting to see how they develop; apparently they all experience something of 'God' in their stay and leave as changed men.

The Benedictine Rule has also been in the news recently with the appointment of a new Pope, named Benedictine VXI. Many are asking questions as to why he has picked this name. Many believe it is because of the teaching that St Benedict gave about living in the world when he was alive in 5-6th century. But what is this teaching?

The Rule of St Benedict has many practical guidelines, like surrendering possessions and manual labour everyday. It also has spiritual disciplines to enhance the monks relationship with God and with others. The heart of the rule is a simple life that leaves room for contemplative stillness and trains an attentive ear into which God can speak. It also creates space to get to know those with whom you share the world, learning from and being challenged by them.

I have often found appealing the idea of joining a monastery, to get away from the busyness of life to find space to forget about the world. Now I have looked at St Benedict, I find that monasticism is not about withdrawal from the world rather a way to wholeheartedly engage with it. This, to me, seems more challenging because it calls me to be different where people I know can notice a change. Perhaps you, like me, need to create a space with in our busy lives to allow God to speak without the background noise of 'things to do'. Maybe there is a need to consider our actions and their effect on the world. It could even be a challenge to ask if we are treating those around us for what they are, wonderfully created and crafted by the maker of the universe.

I am going to try and find space to listen, love and serve a bit more. Tell me if you see a change or give it a go yourself!

Every Blessing,

Matt Finch

Copyright remains with independent content providers where specified, including but not limited to Village Pump contributors. All rights reserved.