Benedict’s Wisdom for Change and Transition
We stand in a long line of Benedictines who have seen the needs of society and people of God and adapted our way of living to serve more effectively. Take, for instance, the shift from a completely cloistered life in Europe to one of teaching in the early days of American Benedictines. Or, as our own Sisters experienced, moving to a modified habit so that we could better do the everyday work of nurses and occupational therapists.
There are yet changes to be made, as we continue to evolve with God’s grace. We may not know what they are quite yet, but Benedictines live a vow of conversion of life and change is part of that ongoing process. That may seem odd, given all we hear about the Benedictine commitment to stability, but change is, in fact, a healthy part of both stability and conversion of life.
Stability without flexibility and adaptation might better be called stuck. Without some openness to adapting to the needs of the time and circumstances over which we have no control, we miss the vibrant challenge of finding true continuity with our past. The real call is to faithful interpretation. The Rule of Benedict continues to offer people today wisdom that has shaped and formed us to respond faithfully to God at this time in history.
Saint Benedict developed a wholistic lifestyle, including seeking wisdom from community members. Through council meetings, for example, the abbot meets with the chosen wisdom monks and shares that wisdom with the Community. At Chapter meetings, members discuss questions and ideas in order to make wise decisions for the future. That discipline of drawing on wisdom and discerning together where we are called in transition is what keeps us engaged with ministry outreach.
This year, as the Monastic Community begins to discern who will be their next prioress, may the commitments to stability, conversion and faithful transition be held together by the Benedictine wisdom we continue to learn together.
Learn more about core Benedictine values.
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