Next Wednesday, the 11th. July, we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Benedictine Order.  The Benedictine Rule, put together by St. Benedict himself and which orders the daily life of all Benedictines as well Oblates of the order, emphasises ora et labor  (prayer and work) in which a Benedictine devoted themselves to prayer, study and manual labour, living together under the leadership of an Abbot or Abbess.

His rule is characterised by moderation (unlike some early Christian movements, which stressed severe acts of self-discipline), and Benedict himself, in spite of high standards for the monastic life, was a gentle and peaceable man. The monasteries established under his influence, played a vital role in preserving learning and culture during the Dark Ages, and the rule of St. Benedict has guided many monks, nuns and lay people up to this day.

The teachings of his life and monastic ministry are profound. I share three of these:

First, the circle of rest-work-prayer which he taught, is vital to balance in our spiritual life. As my training Rector reminded us, so many years ago now, if we don't rest well, we will not work well, and if we do not work well, we will not pray well and so on, and so on…and the circle continues.

Second therefore, great things can be done for God through a life properly balanced between prayer, rest and work, with elements of solitude and community (or family) involvement.

Third, responding to God’s call can be immensely more valuable than we might expect (for Benedict could never have imagined the essential role his monasteries would play in preserving Western culture. Indeed, our beloved Church of England has its roots way back long before the Reformation, in the culture, virtues and values of the Benedictine tradition.

So in thanksgiving for his mission and ministry we pray:

Eternal God

who made Benedict a wise master in the school of your service

and a guide to many called into community

to follow the rule of Christ:

grant that we may put your love before all else

and seek with joy the way of your life and liberty.  Amen.

Fr Rodney