A life-giving way

Daily Reading for July 10

Founded as it is on the Gospel, the Rule, like the Gospel itself, never grows old or goes out of fashion. Like the Gospel it is full of both urgency and compassion. Benedict has such a respect for each one of us, created as unique son or daughter, made in the image of Christ, that he shows a very real concern about stifling that God-given freedom and responsibility. This respect for my own self-worth puts a huge responsibility on me. It is up to me to respond or not. The Rule is addressed to the heart, to the disposition of the heart, and that can never become some closed system to be learned or acquired. As Michael Casey says, Benedict is giving us “not a series of prescribed actions but an invitation to remain alert to the challenge of the Word of God.” And so the Rule remains something totally open-ended. Perhaps I should think of it as presenting me with a series of open doors.

The Rule of Benedict is a way of life, a life-giving way. To encounter the text in all its fullness and complexity is like encountering a source and stream, always the same and yet always different, or like a tapestry where I follow first one thread and then another and in doing so get different glimpses of the whole. I return to it time and time again throughout my life. Benedict and his practical manual of the love of Christ is always there to help me on my journey, the coming home of the prodigal to the loving embrace of the Father.

From A Life-Giving Way: A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal (Liturgical Press, 1995).

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