Monastic Monday: Saint Benedict’s First Monastery

Story:

Sometime after St. Benedict put away the temptations of the flesh, the knowledge of his virtue grew in the region of Subiaco.  At one point a group of monks from a nearby monastery approached Benedict.  Their abbot had recently died; so they asked the man of God to be their abbot.  At first Benedict refused, explaining to them that they would be unable to conform to his way of life, which was not as strict has his.  The monks continued

ImageAt the monastery Benedict kept a careful watch on the habits of the monks and would not allow any of their pervious disobedience to the ways of God.  He shepherded the monks along the spiritual path, not allowing them to stray to the right or the left.  After a little time the monks started to regret and resent their decision to make Benedict their abbot.  Many of them did not see why they should change their way of thinking after so long in the monastic life. to request Benedict to be their superior, in the end, he gave into their requests and became their superior.

At length, the monks decided to try and do away with the man of God, so they could go back to their former way of life.  They decided to poison Benedict’s wine.  They presented him with a glass pitcher of the deadly mixture, of wine and poison, at his meal time.  As was Benedict’s custom he blessed the wine making the sign of the cross, over it.  With the wine well beyond his reach the glass shattered, at the time of the blessing, as if struck by a stone.

Benedict then understood it had contained a deadly drink, which could not bear the sign of the life.  He remained calm and undisturbed by the threat on his life.   At once he rose and gathered the community together.  Addressing them he said, “May Almighty God have mercy upon you.  Why did you conspire to do this?  Did I not tell you at the outset that my way of life would never harmonize with yours?  Go and find yourself an abbot to your liking.  It is impossible for me to stay here any longer.”  Then he left the monastery and went back to the wilderness he loved, to live alone, in the presence of his heavenly Father.

Reflection:

Benedict is still depicted in many icons and in the Medal of St. Benedict with the shattered cup.  The broken cup is a reminder that the life of the Benedictine is not an easy life.  Benedict kept to a strict rule, but if we let ourselves conform to his Rule we can thrive under it, as his later monastic communities did.  The main problem with Benedict’s first monastic community was not that Benedict was too strict, but the monks were too set in their ways to conform to his way of life.  Their solution to Benedict’s just life was to try and end his life, which further shows their opposition to ways of God.  However, Benedict’s holy way of life protects him from their evil scheme, and like the Apostles in an unwelcoming city brushes the sand off his feet and returns to his solitude to live for God.

About Jesse

I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts in Theology focusing on Church History. I am a Third Order Benedictine monk, in the Company of Jesus. I am married to a wonderful woman, we just had a baby Michaela Rose. You can follow me and be alerted of new blog post by following me on Twitter @jtalexanderiv. Or following this blog.
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