Wisdom for Our Times from the Benedictine Tradition

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community, Monastic Life, Oblates Leave a Comment

The Benedictine tradition, which has thrived for over 1500 years, contains deep wisdom for today. The Conference of Benedictine Prioresses published a study booklet entitled Wisdom from the Tradition: A Statement of North American Benedictine Women in Response to Our Times. In it they bring wisdom from the lived experience of Benedictines through the centuries to respond to some of the pressing issues of our times. To address the fear, alienation, domination, exclusion and violence of our times, they offer five dimensions of monastic wisdom:

  • Extending respect and reverence to others will overcome our fears and theirs.
  • Community-building will counteract the dominant culture of individualism, isolation and alienation.
  • Official authority will be life-giving when it listens carefully before making decisions.
  • Strangers will be bearers of blessing when they are welcomed with a blessing.
  • Restoring justice will subvert the culture of violence.

Given this winter’s events in Wisconsin politics and the recent killing of Osama bin Laden these affirmations from Benedictine life seem especially important. For anyone who might wonder how monastic life is relevant to our day, I would share these fundamental Benedictine principles, helpful for the whole human family regardless of religion or culture.

At Holy Wisdom Monastery the sisters and the communities around us seek to live these principles in a variety of ways. All are welcome at Holy Wisdom Monastery. The sisters and members of Sunday Assembly are involved in dialogue with our brothers and sisters from the Islamic Center in Madison. An interfaith dialogue group has met at the monastery for over thirty years. Our oblates study Benedictine spirituality together and seek ways to live it in their lives wherever they are.

You can read more about Benedictine Spirituality for the 21st Century at this link. Please share your comments below – How might  the above principles apply to situations in your life? Let us listen carefully to each other and receive one another with reverence and respect.

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