At the very end of The Rule is an epilogue - a last word, of sorts, perhaps added later in Saint Benedict's life. In it Saint Benedict refers the reader to other works that will lead them to perfection: Holy Scripture, the Holy Catholic Fathers, St. Basil, Cassian's Institutes and Conferences. Saint Benedict claims that his rule is "for beginners" in the spiritual life. Keeping it will give one the tools for the journey to Christ through community. But, if you want REAL holiness, there are others who can point the way. Saint Benedict's humility is obvious here.
RB 73 comforts me. We who follow Benedict accept the discipline of The Rule freely. We embrace its wisdom and believe that somehow, together, we will begin to resemble the Christ we seek. Somehow, with our sisters love, forgiveness and example, our life in community will point to something greater than ourselves - to the One who chas alled us to this beautiful life. And yet, even in a lifetime of keeping its precepts, (with reasonable success,) we are still just "beginners" - still in need of the merciful love of Christ whose love is ultimately our salvation.
Our class is over now...our bags are nearly packed. Even my Rule is sealed up in a box of books. It will take some time to "unpack" the wisdom we've been given here. Sister Aquinata has taught us her methodology. She has given us nearly every lecture she's ever written on the Rule of Benedict. Even copies of her handouts for duplicating have been freely offered to this class. In short we've been handed nearly forty years of scholarship. It is an awesome and humbling experience to be entrusted with so much. But what we have been given belongs to our communities now. Everything we have learned, every new insight or experience is to be shared. This course is just a "beginning"...of a lifetime of honoring The Rule - of sharing our love for Saint Benedict with a world in need of his practical compassion.
I have so enjoyed sharing these months of study, pilgrimage and adventure with all of you - near and far. Writing has helped me to process and own much of this experience and for that I am truly grateful. In just over 24 hours, Sister Veronica and I will be HOME! If you are interested in the very everyday stuff of our monastic life, this blog will continue from Bristow and Richmond, VA. It certainly won't be quite so exciting, but it's the real life we go home to that interests me most. Hopefully, some of that will interest you, too.
Yesterday, after "graduation," Sister Veronica and I asked Sister Aquinata to sign our copies of her book. She graciously agreed. What Sister wrote did not surprise me. Sister Aquinata turned our attention, yet again, back to Saint Benedict. RB 72:11-12. I smiled as I realized the verse. "Prefer nothing whatever to CHRIST and may he bring us all together to everlasting life."
Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki
PS - Look for a new blog on Monday, March 3rd.