Friday, December 19, 2008

Demanding what’s lacking. A Benedictine oblate blog

One of my favorite commentaries on Benedictine monasticism is the little book, "The Benedictines," by Dom David Knowles(1). St. Benedict’s Rule for monks written in about 530 AD has wisdom to impart to today’s world and writers like David Knowles do a good service in showing that truth.

A family is used in "The Benedictines" to illustrate how monks live together in harmony, because family-type relations are often spoken of in the Rule.

During Christmas time when some of us may have more family visits, the following quote from "The Benedictines" may help explain how to have a Benedictine relationship with all family members. This is a commentary on monks, but we can see every family here too:

“As a member of a family the Benedictine comes to realize that charity is often better than zeal and sacrifice; that it is ill quarreling in a small boat on a long voyage; that he must accept from his brothers what they have and not demand from them what they lack; that many things are healed by time. As a superior, he may have realized that here too he cannot escape from the limitations of his medium; that it is in and with and for his family that he must work; that neither hand nor head could exist without the body; that he is the head or the hand of this definite body and cannot leave it behind or tear it in pieces or transmute it into something rich and strange.”



(1) "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, online version of this classic work.


  1. Thanks for that quote. Very helpful at this time!!

  2. Colleen,

    I liked the quote too!

    It is ironic that the monastic tradition (those unmarried folks) can have such direct application to married family life in the 21st century.