Benedictine Spirituality

Timeless guidance for everyday living

Benedictine spirituality

It may seem odd that some of the best guidelines for achieving balance in our world today, where "stress" has become the norm,  come from a Sixth century Italian monk who at one point chose to live by himself in a cave. Yet through the centuries, millions have found the teachings of St. Benedict of Nursia and his Rule for monastic life key to their own spiritual wholeness.

The spirituality of St. Benedict has offered those who follow its path a way to faith-filled living through work, prayer, learning and living in community. This is not a spirituality that requires a departure from everyday life, but rather a way of being that embraces and becomes fully engaged in the holiness that permeates our daily existence and the call to follow Christ in all that we do.

The following pages are a selection of thoughts, essays, quotes and suggestions on what it means to follow the teachings of St. Benedict to a more authentic and integrated being. These offerings pose questions as to how a Benedictine focus can change the way we think about ourselves, treat one another and spend our time. They ask us to identify what is really important in our lives— what outweighs all our desires for money, status and success, and points to the authentic spiritual self  deep within. And they respond to concerns about the difficulty of nurturing spiritual health in a world where the sacred  is seen as something separate from everyday living.

When we live an integrated life, we express the true identity that God created for each of us. Our every encounter and activity revolves around our longing to be connected to God. St. Benedict's wisdom can help us center ourselves in God even while we live day in and day out in a culture that may work against us. Moreover, it shows us how those who share our lives are part of the spiritual way.

First things first

The Rule of St. Benedict
The Rule of St. Benedict establishes a way of life rooted in the Gospel and grounded in the scriptural principles of charity, humility, stability, and faithfulness. It sets forth an outline for Christian discipleship drawn from the heart of Jesus’ ministry.

Two books that bring the Rule closer to home

Living with Contradiction
The Rule of St. Benedict addresses itself to us, each of us, just as we are. St. Benedict understands human nature, its strengths and weaknesses, limitations and potential. He respects the mystery that each person is, and the result of this is that the thrust of the Rule is never towards dictating, rather it is towards the inner disposition of the heart. So begins the third chapter of Esther de Waal's compelling book. Read here de Waal's insights about how the rule can help us to wholeness in this fragmented world.

Always We Begin Again
A busy attorney looking for balance in his daily life found the key in the Rule of Saint Benedict. Read here excerpts from John McQuiston's popular book, which reinterprets the rule for contemporary life and offers An Example Weekday Schedule with Seven Stopping Points

More ways to understand Benedictine spirituality and some practices to get you started

What Does It Mean to Be Holy?
We may think that being holy is something reserved for a  privileged few who stand several wrungs higher than ourselves on the spiritual ladder. Yet based on the Benedictine understanding of spirituality, being holy is more about honoring the sacred in our everyday world. Collected here are thoughts about the nature of holiness, plus what it is that makes us whole.

Holy Realism
Benedictine spirituality does not ignore the difficulties that can plague our lives. It sees life as a whole, with both joys and sorrows, pain and goodness.

Knowing Who You Are
There is always a balance in Benedictine spirituality. Growing closer to God depends on our getting to know our own true selves, in all our lights and shadows.

We Can't Go It Alone
"Benedictine spirituality is intent on our realizing that the presence of the other is also essential to my own development as well. Community is a Benedictine value. Do we need it now? We exist to be miracle workers for one another, and it is in community that we are called to grow."

Attaining Balance
"[Saint] Benedict was quite precise about it all. Time was to be spent in prayer, in sacred reading, in work and in community participation.... It was public as well as private; it was private as well as public. It was balanced."