St Benedict of Norcia
Today, 21st March marks the day when in 547 AD Saint Benedict of Norcia, patron Saint of Europe, died.
Today, 21 March 2020 is the day that marks a need for exceptional courage and humanity due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) devastation throughout the World. With the frightening onslaught of the coronavirus affecting multiple facets of people’s lives, one can easily fall into a tailspin of anxious thoughts and seemingly insurmountable fears. With so much suffering and discord dominating the headlines – and even our personal lives – we may miss all the good things happening around us. So, make an effort to find positive things around you, make an effort to make life easier for those you love and stay connected – virtually or in person; in personal contacts use caution – do not abandon!
St. Benedict used the family structure as the basis for his Rule for his monasteries. The community life of a monastery imitates the primary unit of society, a family. Vice versa, the family can use the Rule as for guidelines for structure in daily life and prayer.
Founder of a monastery at Monte Cassino, between Rome and Naples, in the sixth century, St Benedict intended his Rule to be a practical guide to Christian monastic life. Based on the key precepts of humility, obedience and love, its aim is to create a harmonious and efficient religious community in which individuals can make progress in the Christian virtues and gain eternal life. Here, Benedict sets out ideal monastery routines and regulations, from the qualities of a good abbot, the twelve steps to humility and the value of silence to such everyday matters as kitchen duties, care of the sick and the suitable punishment for lateness at mealtimes. Benedict’s legacy is still strong – his Rule remains a source of inspiration and a key work in the history of the Christian church.
The Rule of St. Benedict is a timeless document – in so many ways as fresh and relevant as it was when it was written almost fifteen hundred years ago. Although written for monastics, many of the issues addressed in the Rule can be applied to life in the world outside the monastic community. The qualities which make up a valued life – humility, patience, simplicity, solitude, caring for others, and living in community – concern everyone. These specifics of the Rule, and the framework it provides, have great meaning for people who are seeking to live out their faith in the world today.
Many say that prayers will not stop the Coronavirus and they may be right but we must humble ourselves and remember what every faith tradition reveals: that God is present among the most vulnerable among us, and that if we act now to protect those at the bottom we have the greatest chance of protecting us all.
On that note here is a St. Benedict prayer:
“O Lord, I place myself in your hands and dedicate myself to you. I pledge myself to do your will in all things: To love the Lord God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength.
Not to kill. Not to steal. Not to covet. Not to bear false witness. To honour all persons. Not to do to another what I would not wish done to myself. To relieve the poor. To clothe the naked. To help in trouble. To console the sorrowing.
Not to give way to anger. Not to foster a desire for revenge. Not to entertain deceit in the heart. Not to make a false peace. Not to forsake charity. To speak the truth with heart and tongue. Not to return evil for evil. To do no injury: yea, even to bear patiently any injury done to me. Not to curse those who curse me, but rather to bless them. To bear persecution for justice’s sake.
Not to be proud. Not to be lazy. Not to be slothful. Not to be a murmurer. Not to be a detractor.
To guard my tongue against wicked speech. To avoid much speaking. To avoid idle talk. To read only what is good to read. To look at only what is good to see. To pray often. To obey my superiors in all things rightful. Not to desire to be thought holy, but to seek holiness.
To fulfill the commandments of God by good works. To hate no one. Not to be jealous or envious of anyone. Not to love strife. Not to love pride. To honour the aged. To pray for my enemies. To make peace after a quarrel, before the setting of the sun. Never to despair of your mercy, O God of Mercy. Amen.”
To Saint Benedict I now plead and pray: Dear St Benedict please recommend my Friend Marko Franovic, an Australian Croat – a dedicated benefactor to multitudes in need in Croatia, in Australia and worldwide – to Jesus, who during His ministry on Earth showed His power and caring by healing people of all ages and stations of life from physical, mental, and spiritual ailments. Be present, dear Jesus, now to people who need Your loving touch because of COVID-19. May they feel Your power of healing through the care of doctors and nurses. May Your miracle of healing touch my friend Marko.