We continue with these brief articles about the different spiritualities in the church. I remind you that in a previous article we compared a spirituality with a path. We said that different spiritualities are like different paths that lead us to God.
Today I would like to comment on the Benedictine spirituality. Benedictine spirituality takes its name after Saint Benedict of Nursia. He was an Italian monk who was born around the year 480 A.C.E. Benedict was a man who sought union with God in a radical way. He retired from the movement of the world to the solitude of a monastery. The word monk comes from the Greek monos which means “one”. That is why monks live away from the cities in their monasteries. Although they live in community, each one lives in his cell and they live in silence and in prayer. The monasteries have a superior to whom they call "Abbot" which means "father". That is why Saint Benedict is also known as Saint Benedict Abbot. Saint Benedict had a Latin phrase that said ora et labora which means "pray and work." He represented this phrase with a plow and a cross. This phrase was, and remains for the Benedictines, their life style.
The Benedictine order has existed in the church from the time of St. Benedict to the present day. At some point in the history of the western world, the Benedictines were the ones who preserved the culture since they were the most educated people, and thanks to them the universities, classical literary works, music, and singing were kept standing. In fact, the famous Gregorian chant is named after Pope St. Gregory the Great, who belonged to this religious order.
Along with the above, I add that the Benedictines have been one of those who contributed most to the liturgical life of the church. This contribution was made in terms of beauty and good celebrations in which the presence of God can be experienced in a very strong way through the songs, through music, and through the reverence and respect with which the liturgy is celebrated. If you have the opportunity to visit a Benedictine monastery you will see that the monks meet 6 times a day to pray, and are extremely obedient to the bell that calls them to gather in the temple to sing the psalms and thus worship and glorify God.
As you can see, Benedictine spirituality has an enormous wealth that spans many centuries of Christian history. If any of you are interested in knowing more about this spirituality first hand, there is a Benedictine abbey called Saint Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, California. I hope you are able to visit it someday.
Fr. Manuel Rosiles, MSpS