Catholic Classroom: The Order of Saint Benedict
Question: What is the Order of St. Benedict?
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, a 6th century saint who is often referred to as the father of Western monasticism. After some time living as a hermit, St. Benedict wrote his "Rule of Benedict," which has lived on through the centuries as a guide for living out communal monastic life. Unlike other religious orders, the Order of Saint Benedict is comprised of multiple autonomous communities who follow the Rule to varying degrees of austerity.
The Benedictine charism is one of prayer and work. As monks, Benedictines live a contemplative life and pray individually and as a community throughout the day. They are especially known for singing the Liturgy of the Hours.
Depending on the community, a monk’s work can be anything from writing books to farming. In addition to vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, Benedictine monks take a vow of stability, which binds them to their specific community for life. In his Rule, St. Benedict stressed the importance of receiving every person as though they are Christ. For this reason, the monks are also known for their hospitality.
St. Benedict’s sister, St. Scholastica, founded the first congregation of Benedictine sisters, and today there are numerous communities of sisters living out the Rule of Benedict. Lay men and women can also live out a Benedictine spirituality by being Oblates of Saint Benedict. Oblates don’t take vows or live in community, but they associate themselves with a Benedictine community so as to help them live lives of prayer and work in the secular world.
For more information about other religious communities and their charisms, check out this blog.
St. Benedict, pray for us!