Today, we celebrate the Feast of Saint Benedict, the writer of the rule that continues to guide monastic communities fifteen hundred years after it was written. The 6th century was a horrible time in Rome. A plague had devastated the city, which had been all but destroyed by invading armies. Benedict left the city for a life of solitude in prayer in a cave in the nearby village of Subiaco. Soon he was joined by others who asked him to serve as their leader, their father, their abbot.
Benedict reluctantly agreed and so wrote his rule for monasteries — a compilation of best practices for religious communities. Benedict’s monks were trying to escape their world, but sought to deal with the challenges of their time and place as God called them to with mercy and compassion and peace. While you and I are not monks or nuns, Saint Benedict’s rule offers us insights into how to deal with our own time of plague, treating one another with patience and empathy always ready to forgive, and seek forgiveness, ready to put aside our needs and wants for the greater good of the family and community.