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Download PDF The Radical Christian Life: A Year with Saint Benedict

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Joan Chittister, OSB, is a Benedictine sister and international lecturer who has been a leading voice in spirituality for more than thirty years.


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She has authored over forty books, most recently Uncommon Gratitudeand The Monastery of the Heart, part of a program she is helping to develop to enable lay groups to live Benedictine spirituality in a contemporary way. Joan Chittister. Story 8August. Story 10October. Academy teachers share messages to former students National Catholic Schools Week is a time to appreciate parishes, communities, staff, teachers, and students of Catholic Schools.

What can we learn from Benedict's Rule?

We Are Teachers, Nurses, Musicians, Bakers, and Social Workers… You will find us ministering all around our region, working with others and living out our Benedictine values. Benedict is good because I am accepted for who and what I am while being challenged to be the best person I can be. Served as principal 23 years.

Served as teacher 30 years. The support to become the best person I could be is a very strong plus for this community.

Saint Benedict’s Option

Books read s maybe s. It's not asceticism for the sake of asceticism. It just resonates with my experience of God.

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Instruments 7 played. Military Service 10 years in Army N. I am who I am and I feel loved and accepted by each member. Languages Typed for Bible 2 Q'eqchi' and Pokomchi. Benedict is a good thing for God has called me to this community.

The Rule of St. Benedict

I thank God daily for this gift. One of the many ways I can be myself in this loving community is through the communication skills we have. As in many circumstances, a movement can outstrip the founder — both for good and for ill. Cardinal Newman wrote two important works on St. First of all, our saint produced a rule of life, in all likelihood, culling material from various monastic rules. As the era of red martyrdom waned, a new kind of witness was seized upon: the white martyrdom of consecrated virginity.

Active listening is the key to personal development — a listening that is intent on obedience. Yet other religious orders have their origins in that Rule — communities like the Cistercians, Trappists, and Camaldolese. It is reasonable to conclude that the effectiveness of the various works undertaken by the monks was directly dependent on and resultant from their fidelity to prayer. And works did they undertake! They were evangelists but also unwitting founders of metropolises.

The Radical Christian Life

Yes, all these places were established by the monks. The beautiful and charming city of Munich in Bavaria likewise has monastic roots. In truth, Benedictine monasteries dotted the landscape of all of Western Europe, from England and Ireland to Spain, France and Italy, bringing with them everything from advanced methods of farming to preservation of ancient manuscripts, establishment of schools — yes, monastery schools, which became models for cathedral schools, out of which grew universities.

They began libraries and, most importantly, they fostered a devotion to and cultivation of beautiful liturgy.

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Baronius Press: The Rule of St. Benedict.

It was not an accident that when Henry VIII wanted to destroy the Catholic Church in England, his first target was the monasteries, those institutions which were not only the foundation stones of the Church there but also the very lifeblood of the Church. With any significant achievement there also comes the risk of complacency and even corruption. We have a Latin proverb to cover that phenomenon as we do for nearly every human situation : Corruptio optimi pessima The corruption of the best is the worst. So, it must be said that, in not a few places, worldly values snuffed out the primary vocation of monastics.

However, there was also within the monastic ethos the seed for correction.

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Thus, we find the emergence of the Cluniac Reform, with none other than the towering figure of St. Bernard of Clairvaux as a prime mover.


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  • I think it fair to say that an institution ought not to be judged by its failures but by its capacity to rebound from those failures with a genuine commitment to reform. Let me bring to my side a rather unlikely supporter for that vision — Booker T. One proof of the sturdy fabric of the Benedictine movement is the number of saints it has produced; after all, sanctity is the goal of the Christian life, is it not?

    Interestingly, seventeen popes were Benedictines, seven of whom are canonized saints.

    Did Benedict ever envision such developments from his escape from Rome to Subiaco? Doubtless, much may be undone by the many, but nothing is done except by those who are specially trained for action. The point to be taken, however, is that great things happen from one inspired and inspiring human being.