The New Benedictine Community
A Community Rhythm of Life
We strive to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, walking in the footsteps of generations who have gone before us, gathering in His name, and seeking the inspiration of our holy father St. Benedict whose Rule we embrace as our guide for the journey. We do this together as community, in prayerful reverence, and with the hope that God will direct our lives according to His purpose. We are a community that gives flesh to the vision of our Benedictine forebears but strives to form a new kind of monastic life that is faithful to the spirit of the Rule as it has relevance to our time and place. In this life-long journey, we hope, paraphrasing Joan Chittister, to “take care of everything, revere one another, eat and drink moderately, pray where we work, think deeply about life every day, read, sleep well, don’t demand the best of everything, pray daily, and live in community…, being sure that one part of our life is not warring against another.” In keeping with St. Benedict’s foundational insistence on radical hospitality, we welcome all as Christ without exception. We remain open to new ideas and expressions of all kinds, whether religious, political, social, artistic, intellectual, or cultural. The whisper of God is present in all things, new or old, and new things may lead us to new ways of experiencing the reign of God among us. For those of us who are called to this way of life, these words set our hearts on fire. We thus respond with our whole being. And we invite all to join us on this quest for God in community. “LISTEN, my child…”. Rule 1.
Contemplation and Silence. Beyond all words and ideas, we seek a deeper form of prayer that transcends particular methods and techniques and leads to quiet union in and with God. To paraphrase Anthony de Mello, “We strive not for an absence of noise, but for an absence of self.”
Intercessory Prayer and the Opus Dei. Prayer for the world is the particular ministry of the monastic. Through it we act as a leaven for the whole planet as we wait for the fullness for which God created us. We gather together in prayer as the “Opus Dei”, the “work of God”, as prescribed by St. Benedict, in active, outward communion with the world.
In St. Benedict’s monastery, everyone was expected to offer some sort of service to the Community, laboring in the fields, serving at table, running the abbot’s office, sharing the wisdom of years of faithfulness, or allowing others to tend to our frailties. Monks always serve someone and in that service, serve God.
Presence. “Being with” people rather than “doing for” them is perhaps the greatest service we can offer anyone. In simple acts of solidarity with others, we honor both their dignity and our own.
No one can predict what God has planned. We must keep our hearts and minds open in order to receive God’s gifts and surprises.
All people, regardless of circumstance, are called into a dance with God.
Ecumenism. God likely cares a great deal less about our differences than we do. Because of that, we choose not to make denominational distinctions within the Community. We thus give witness to the unity within the diversity of God.
We affirm that we cannot grow together as a Benedictine community if we do not pledge to each other and to the wider church that we will adhere to the principles of “Safe Church” as developed by Episcopal Church.
This is our greatest treasure in Christ. Community is the most complete expression of our oneness as the Body of Christ.
Work. We are co-creators with God in Christ and our labor is offered as a gift to God and to our communities. We are called to actively participate in the work of the reign of God, no matter how humble the work or how large or small our communities.
Holy Leisure. Too often forgotten in our society is the blessedness of play. A childlike immersion in carefree pleasure is perhaps the best way to discover the simplicity of joy.
Learning something new expands our entire being. Our goal is to continue to grow and to learn until, at last, we surrender our lives to God.
Wonder and Awe. “When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, who are we that you should keep us in mind?” (Psalm 8:3-4). We seek to live in intentional awareness of God’s presence and creativity, thus inspiring us to live in continuous awe and wonder.
Lectio Divina/Sacred Reading.
We allow the words of scripture to move as deeply within ourselves as our own breath. We then bring those words into our life together.
Things that are beautiful and true move in the direction of simplicity rather than complexity. Practical. Rather than esoteric consideration of spiritual matters, we seek to walk a path that teaches us
how to live life in the here and now, and to do that well.
Sometimes our egos tell us that we are more than we really are and sometimes our egos tell us that we are less. Either way, it’s all about us. Realism accepts what is, forgives, and gets on with life.
Conversion of Life
Faith. Faith is about what we give our hearts to. When we give our hearts to God, our lives change.
Living things grow and change constantly. Our faith life must also grow and change if it is to be dynamic and alive.
Change is non-attachment to what is—for the sake of what might be.
Intentional. “Mindful living in the presence of God”. (Br. Francis, OSB).
Contemporary. We are not looking to recreate past glories but to discover what St. Benedict might do in
this century and culture.
Grounded. Our path forward is soundly rooted in the faith of the church and the wisdom of the Benedictine tradition.
Trust in ourselves, in others, in our “way”, and in the God who has led us throughout our lives. Compassion. The compassion that forgives our leaders for being human; allows us to remain faithful even
when we cannot see the road ahead; and trusts that God is at work in all things.
Knowing that there is always more than what we see and know in this moment, as well as recognizing patterns in ourselves and in our communities.
As Sr. Joan Chittister OSB says, “[We strive to live] well, both alone and with others … totally immersed in God.”
Absolute Faith in the Goodness of God
Absolute faith. Ultimately, this is all we really know: God is good. Everything else is simply an elaboration of this basic fact. We either live by this unshakeable belief or we do not.
We call ourselves and others into a remembering of what is true and good and worthy through our lives of commitment to the vision that God is good and that, as a consequence, this way of life is good.
Always beginners. No matter how long we have lived in intentional work with God, we call ourselves and others to remember that we are all beginners in the spiritual life.
This Rhythm (or Rule or Measure) is based on the Charisms and Vows in the New Benedictine Community draft Constitution
Composed by Brother Robert osb one of our Priors