Sunday, November 9, 2008

Balance: the answer to all questions? A Benedictine oblate blog

I searched the Vatican’s web site for materials on monasticism. I found about 80 documents. Many of the documents are written by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

I have been reading more materials from the Vatican because of their quality, depth, and insight.

Regarding the topic of monasticism, I have learned that the Vatican documents do not treat monasticism in isolation from the rest of the Church, instead monasticism is part of the whole. This image of an integrated monasticism might help me to see that monasticism should also NOT be treated in isolation from the wider world.

It is a fascinating question for me: How have monasteries lived apart from their communities yet have become great influences on those communities? I think "Balance" will be part of the answer!


  1. O aye: as a Plain Catholic we still attend a regular parish, still volunteer with others. There is only one extreme permissable according to St. Benedict: our love and loyalty to God. All else pales.

    We also stay out of many secular themed activities to cultivate our relationship with Christ.

  2. Yes, you are right. As I reread my blog I thought that “balance” might not be the right concept when viewed from the outside of being an oblate — because of what you wrote: there is only one extreme, "our love and loyalty to God. All else pales." That is exactly how I see it.

    I am just like you in terms of secular- themed activities — for those activities that I cannot avoid, I try to have as little involvement as possible. And our relationship to Christ is the constant activity placed above all others.

    From where I view it, my life is gaining greater balance under the Rule of St. Benedict. But I can also see how I would have viewed such statements during my 37 years as an atheist — as being out of balance with a rational interaction with the world which holds so many worthwhile activities.

    Great comment Plain Catholic, thank you.

  3. This is exactly what makes monastic spirituality so attractive to me - moderation, which Benedict was so careful to develop. Still, monasteries have never been completely detached from their surrounding communities. Today many are, in a number of ways in touch with the world. Places like Gethsemene are even dependent on internet commerce to support the monastery. Then too, they are engaged in prayer for the world, the most powerful form of support and interaction there is.

    Keep up the good work --

    Ron Moffat