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Sunday, July 10, 2016

St Benedict, Abbot

"Break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD." Hos 10:12

One of the tasks of the great Rabbis was to reduce the entire Law and Prophets to as few words as possible while still retaining the fullness of truth they embody. Jesus does this in his response to those trying to "trip him up" by reducing the Law and Prophets to two values: Love God totally and your neighbor as yourself.

This same lens is used by the founders of the great religious movements of the Christian West. In order, as Hosea says, to break up a new field, St. Benedict first fled the insanity of his times to live for three years in the desert. Returning finally, he gathers like minded men around him in order to lead a communal life. Committing themselves to stability, Benedict and his followers also insisted that ora et labora, prayer and work, be the foundations of monastic life. Whatever other iterations might develop to foster gospel living, these two pillars must endure.

The genius of this particular gospel path allows others who follow to "read the signs of the times" and ask how these founding charisms might live in every age. Because the values of prayer and work are so rich and deep, as long as they remain the building blocks for every age, new expressions might develop for those who want to lead an authentic monastic life in the 21st century.

Today, pray to take hold again of the building blocks of Christianity: Love God and neighbor.

What are the most important signs of the times to which we must respond in our day for the Gospel to be heard?

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