Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Priority of Love...

Today we had a guest instructor, Rev. Emmanuel Alvarez, OSA, a professor of Patristics at the Augustinianum here in Rome. Father's topic was the relationship between the Rule of Augustine and the Rule of Benedict. (Nancy Oliphant's icon can be found at
The more I learn about Augustine, the more I like him. Yes, I know his works have been cited to shift the concern of the Church in areas that affect sexuality and the dignity of women in GOD's creation. In all fairness to this friend of GOD, he was a hopeless sinner burdened with shame who found his strength in the bottomless pit of GOD's grace. So, while many might want to focus on the consequences of his personal issues, I choose to see Augustine as a companion in my own struggles for holiness. One can learn much from reading The Confessions. We can know more of his heart from reading his rule - a document written to instruct his community in the common life. It is eight short chapters - in monastic studies, a quick-read!
What is most gratifying is his emphasis on the Gospel mandate of love above all else and that the brothers " oneness of mind and heart" (Rule of Augustine, 3.). We know Saint Benedict read this rule and significant pieces of it found their way into his seventy-three chapters. Many of the teachings I most love in RB are directly from this fourth-century source. The prioress should "strive to be loved more than feared" (RB 64:15). Likewise, Benedict's concept of distribution according to need and the need for immediate, mutual forgiveness also find their root in Augustine's wisdom. I am grateful to the Bishop of Hippo for his contribution to our Holy Rule. May he pray for the Church - that we might grow in understanding and reverance for the gifts of women. I must be getting old. I really do find comfort in the thought that "nobody's perfect."
Peace and love... - Sister Vicki
PS - We're off to Subiaco and Monte Cassino tomorow. Next "blog"... Friday.