Thursday, October 23, 2008

It’s life, not knowledge. A Benedictine oblate blog

Peace is at the heart of monastic culture. In "The Love of Learning and the Desire for God," by Jean Leclercq, OSB. I read today:

“The whole organization of monastic life is dominated by the solicitude for safeguarding a certain spiritual leisure, a certain freedom in the interests of prayer in all its forms, and above all, authentic contemplative peace.”

This might be thought of as somewhat paradoxical because the monastic life is so filled with books, reading, study — I might even say learning — but it is learning of a different sort.

Jean Leclercq provides the insight:

“As can be seen, this fundamental activity of monastic life is based on literature. For monks in general, the foremost aid to good works is a text which makes possible the meditated reading of the word of God. This will greatly affect the domain of monastic exegesis, entirely oriented toward life, and not toward abstract knowledge.”

So, a monastic’s reading is directed toward life in constant communion with God — in contemplative peace.

This fundamental redirection of the monastic life can be seen in the first sentence of the Rule of St. Benedict:

“Listen, my son, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart.” The first step into monastic culture.


"The Love of Learning and the Desire for God," by Jean Leclercq, OSB. Fordham University Press, New York, 2001.

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