Sandpiper: Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst

WWW.SANDPIPER.ORG.AU JULY 2018 2 A WORD FROM THE BISHOP Bishop Les Tomlinson eventually built twelve monasteries, each with their own abbot, and lived in a thirteenth mon- astery with a few select brothers, as abbot over all of them. He is noted for the Rule of St. Benedict, which is likely to have been an expansion of an earlier monastic rule, and is the only piece of Benedict’s writing we have. This rule stresses hospitality, humility, prayer, and work in com- munal life. We have then, a picture of a man who grew up in material wealth, with a good education and all the advantages to succeed in the soci- ety of his place and time who, at some point around the age of 20, looked around at all the excesses about him and chose an alternative Disclaimer: SandPiper is a free newspaper published monthly (except January) by the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst. It is distributed through all Diocesan Catholic schools and parishes. 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God in daily life DISTRIBUTION The SandPiper is published and distributed for the first Sunday of each month to schools and parishes across the diocese. Schools and Parishes in close proximity to each other have been combined to one delivery point where possible. If you experience delays or have any issues regarding your SandPiper delivery, please notify the editor. 03 5445 3610 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” – John 3:16 myself in the centre of everything, I need to seek God at my centre. As Pope Benedict said, “Saint Benedict’s life was steeped in an atmosphere of prayer, which was the very foundation of his existence. Without prayer there is no experience of God.” The Rule may have been written 1500 years ago with a very different audience in mind but even, or perhaps especially, reading in and between the lines, it offers us wise counsel for today. For Benedict, a spiritual pathway was not one to be littered with weird and unusual practices; rather, all that is needed is to be faithful to finding God in the ordinary circum- stances of daily life. St Benedict teaches that growth comes from accepting people as they are, not as we would F rom time to time, I am sure most of us reflect on those who have gone before us. Many relatives and friends have shaped our lives and, in one way or another, have left a small inherit- ance or even some form of rich legacy. Some time back I noted in Sandpiper, the wonderful achievements and gifts of Faith given for us by Saints Ignatius, Francis and Dominic. The month of July prompts me to note and reflect on the remarkable life and legacy of St Benedict. On July 11, the Catholic Church cele- brates the feast of Saint Benedict of Nursia, the sixth-century abbot who gave Christian monasticism its lasting foundation in Western Europe. For his historic role as the ‘Father of Western Monasticism,’ St Benedict was declared a co-patron of Europe, along with Saints Cyril and Methodius. St Benedict was also the patron saint of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. In a 2005 general audience, the Pope said St. Benedict was a “powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots” of Europe. He cited the monk’s instruction to “prefer nothing to the love of Christ,” and asked his intercession “to help us keep Christ firmly at the heart of our lives.” So who was Benedict? Benedict was born of noble birth around the year 480, in central Italy. He was educated in Rome, studying rhetoric and law, but was turned off by the excesses of Roman society. He abandoned the life in which he had been brought up and found a mentor named Romanus, a monk in a nearby monastery, who encouraged him to become a hermit, which he was for three years, embracing prayer, silence, and solitude. Benedict appears to have grown into his vocation during this time, and after he emerged, stories of miracles spread widely, and a community grew up around him. He path. Benedict had a vision of what it meant to live in accordance with the Gospel. He did not set out to invent monasticism; it already existed. He added his own focus and energy to reforming what he experienced. So, Saint Benedict was a man who chose a life apart from the world’s preoccupations, first living as a hermit and later as abbot of the monastery he founded atop Monte Casino. Here was a man who never travelled further in his life than central Italy. Today, however, he is called the father of a vast monastic family spread throughout the world. This work of the Lord expresses itself espe- cially by the attraction to Saint Benedict’s teaching, felt by so many of the religious and laity in the Church today. The Rule he wrote for his followers is rec- ognised by monastics and lay people alike, as an authentic way of living the Gospel of Christ. Pope Emeritus Benedict, before he resigned, had spoken of his patron saint in one of his Wednesday General Audiences. He referred to Saint Benedict as a model of self-renunciation, demonstrating how we might overcome the fundamental temptation of every human being; the temptation to ego- tism. Rather than being self-absorbed, putting like them to be. His references to the stubborn and the dull, the undisciplined and the restless, have the ring of reality. Though Benedict was no idealist with respect to human nature, he understood that the key to spiritual progress lies in constantly making the effort to see Christ in each person – no matter how irritating or tiresome that per- son may appear. Benedictine values are as necessary today as they were in the sixth century. In an era of countless personal and soci- etal sins – materialism and racism and the destruction of the earth through waste and carelessness – Benedict’s Rule remains a pow- erful alternative, another way of viewing life and people and things that finds meaning in the ordinary and makes each day a revelation of the divine. We cannot tell anyone else what to risk or how to choose. We all come from differ- ent circumstances. Our lives give us different opportunities. However, we can ask ourselves, how do I make my choices? Where are my quiet places? Where is the voice of God, for each of us? Saint Benedict’s life was steeped in an atmosphere of prayer, which was the very foundation of his existence. Without prayer there is no experience of God. – Pope Benedict XVI “