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St Benedict 480-547 and the Benedictines

Words of St Benedict

“ What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of His grace.” v 41

“But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God's commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love” v 49 

both from the Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict.

Life of St Benedict     

Benedict and his sister Scolastica were born in the Italian town of Nursia in Umbria about the year 480. Disillusioned with the hedonist student life in Rome he sought a simpler life as a hermit at Subiaco. His fame spread and others joined him. Life was hard and unpredictable as he sought to bring together men of all classes and background into a balanced community. Here he wrote what he called his Little Rule For Beginners.    

Today Benedict still speaks to us of a balanced lifestyle, of prayer and work, of silence and hospitality, of daily conversion to Christ with stability of purpose. There is much here for laity, whether active in business, or seeking a better work/life balance.      

The practice of Lectio Divina, or slowly reading and praying the scriptures, is most associated with Benedictines. See the page on Ways of Praying 

Prayer of Benedict 

Let us prefer nothing to the love of Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life. Ch 72 of The Rule

Altar and sanctuary at Turvey PrioryBenedictine Communities

Within our Diocese we have Benedictine communities at the Priory of Our Lady, Turvey Abbey, and the adjoining Monastery of our Saviour, Turvey - near Bedford.  The Priory website is here. For the Monks, click here.  

Just outside our Diocese but within driving distance is Douai Abbey in Berkshire. They have retreats, workshops and courses run by the Benedictine Community of Priest, Brothers and by laity. Find them at www.douaiabbey.org.uk

Recommended reading

Book cover, bright colours with doveSeeking God : The Way of Benedict by Esther de Waal

Although written a few years ago this is still a modern classic in the way it introduces  new people to St Benedict. De Waal, a married lay woman, sees the Rule of St Benedict as the foundation for a balanced life of study, worship and work. Very readable and highly recommended as a good place to start exploring the ancient Rule in today's world. 

Book cover, spade and garden toolsWork and Prayer : The Rule of St Benedict for Lay People     by Columba Cary-Elwes OSB  

This excellent book takes one through the Rule of St Benedict in a new translation by Sr Catherine Wybourne OSB. Divided into small portions, one for each day of the year, this is very readable. Each chapter then has a commentary by Fr Columba Cary-Elwes OSB. that brings it to life.  

Copyright 2019 by the Catholic Diocese of Northampton, Registered Charity No. 234091