Today, St. Benedict’s feast day, is definitely a special day in our house!
If it wasn’t for St. Benedict, there wouldn’t be an order of St. Benedict. Without the Order of St. Benedict, there wouldn’t be the Benedictine abbey at St. Anselm College. Without the Benedictine Abbey at St. Anselm college, there wouldn’t be St. Anselm College. And without St. Anselm College, my husband and I would (probably?) not have met! So right there is the obvious reason this saint is important to our family.
I actually transferred to St. Anselm College (a story for another post). I came from a school where I didn’t feel like I belonged even a little bit. There seemed to be nothing there for me. Many people loved it, but it was clearly not the place for me. It was a very secular school and, at least from what I could tell, there were no options on the weekends besides partying. I’ve never really enjoyed partying, unless it’s the sort of party where we drink responsibly and have sparkling conversation (I was clearly a very “popular” kid in public high school. . .)
After my freshman year, I decided I wanted to go to a catholic school and, two weeks before classes started, I thought my mom would kill me. Instead, she excitedly said, “I’ll call St. A’s!”
I wasn’t too thrilled about St. Anselm College because it was very close to home and, for some reason, I thought that meant it wasn’t a serious school (what a fool I was!).
Long story short, everything worked out perfectly for me to go there, from housing to a scholarship. While I hadn’t been excited about the idea of St. Anselm’s at first, once I set foot on campus to meet with an admissions counselor, I was in love. The school has a certain feeling. I still get it when I go back (and we go back every chance we get). So I was beyond thrilled when I was accepted.
One of the things I loved most about the school was seeing the Benedictine monks walking around campus in their habits as part of the community. Just seeing the monks walk around made me feel comforted and inspired. I’m grateful that I got to know many of the monks and still keep in contact with several of them to this day.
There’s something very inspiring about the Benedictine community. In a society that can be largely self-serving, there still exist these abbeys of men, brothers, who follow the ancient rule of St. Benedict. A strict, rigorous, focused rule. They eat meals together daily and pray together several times a day. Most of what they own is shared. One of the things I love most about the benedictines is that they have to ask the abbot for permission to do/have most anything.
I think there are quite a few people who would find this lifestyle oppressive, old-fashioned, backwards. But I see this as a beautiful example of humility and devotion. Knowing many of the monks, I know that they are all very different. And yet, they live together in harmony. I can’t say it’s always harmonious, but the thing is, I wouldn’t know otherwise, as it should be. They are examples of true brotherhood and, by living their lives this way, of what it means to be disciples of Christ. It means being obedient- not simply doing whatever you want, but following God’s will.
When St. Benedict was first asked to write a rule and start an order, he tried to refuse, saying it would be too strict. His followers persisted and, when he was as he said he would be, they tried to poison him! His blessing over the glass caused it to shatter, saving him. After that group of followers (who clearly couldn’t hack it), he ended up with a group of devoted and strong followers. Today, There are still devoted, men living as Benedictine monks. They are examples of humility, discipline, and obedience. Areas I, for one, can always use some growing in!
Now, there’s one story I really want to highlight about St. Benedict. One of the legends about this great saint says that when a beggar came to the abbey looking for a little oil, the monk in charge refused to give it to him because they had barely enough left for themselves. Benedict had told him to give the oil anyway. When he found out the man refused, Benedict was angry that the monk did not trust enough that God would provide for them. He knelt down and prayed, and suddenly they could hear the sound of bubbling in the oil jar as it was miraculously filled. I love this story becasue it goes to show that God will always provide for us, if we simply have faith.
This was such a wonderful reminder to me today. Actually, my husband and I recently decided that we are going to choose to do something that will certainly drain us dry for a little bit (isn’t it annoying when people publicly mention something but don’t give details? Sorry!). We were thinking of this and other scripture passages and decided that we need to put our faith in action. We’re grateful for the opportunity to do it.
There are many many many times, however, especially as a mom, and especially lately, where I feel like my jar is running dry and I simply can’t give anymore or there will be nothing left for me- just as the monk feared in the story. I have to remember, though, that God is the one who created the jug (aka me) and he is the only one who can and always does fill it. How can I doubt that he will continue to fill me up, especially when I’m doing His will by living out my vocation?
Hopefully today Saint Benedict can give us all a little extra strength to go on, even when it feels like our oil is running dry. Afterall, the Lord has an everylasting supply!
Oh, and how could I forget?! Every Sunday morning at St. Anselm College, the dining hall served Eggs Benedict. This is where I first tried and fell in love with the dish. It’s now, whithout a doubt, my favorite breakfast. Yet another thing to be grateful to my alma mater for! So celebrate with some benny tonight with your family! Enjoy!