Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What’s So Special About Ordinary? A Benedictine oblate blog

Yes, the peace from our retreat still fills our hearts. And this blog is an extension of how that happens. My wife and I are ordinary folks like everyone else — jobs, house payment, extended family, community activities, and hobbies.

But keeping our hearts fixed on God’s sovereignty and love is what forms our busy lives. That means that God does not merely share a place in our lives along with our interests — we do not think, “OK, now let’s make time for God.” We want all God all the time. We do not want a compartmentalized God or a compartmentalized Christian life, we want to live God’s will in everything.

And all of the above leads to the 1,500-year-old Benedictine monastic tradition. Being a Benedictine oblate (defined here) best creates a total life in God for us.

The gift of St. Benedict was that he showed how the ordinary monk or nun could live a life of “praying without ceasing.” It is a life centered and filled with God.

David Knowles, a monk of Downside Abbey in England (1896-1974) wrote in “The Benedictines” that novelists who wrote about the monastic life “could imagine an angelic monk and a diabolical monk, but they never seriously attempted to imagine an ordinary human monk.”

But it is precisely the great strength of the Rule of St. Benedict that it is to be taken up and lived by the ordinary person, whether monk or oblate.

And our hearts were filled with that spirit of the ordinary monastic life during our remarkable weekend retreat at St. Leo Abbey in Florida. That is one of the reasons we have continued as though we were still there — finding God in every ordinary part of our lives.



"The Benedictines," A Digest for Moderns
By Dom David Knowles
Monk of Downside Abbey
Introduction by Marion R. Bowman, O.S.B.
Abbot of Saint Leo Abbey
The Abbey Press
Saint Leo, Florida
Here is an incomplete version of this classic work.

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