Magazine article U.S. Catholic

St. Ben's Excellent Adventure: Benedict's Rule Has Some Pointers to Bring Peace and Tranquility to Any Family

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

St. Ben's Excellent Adventure: Benedict's Rule Has Some Pointers to Bring Peace and Tranquility to Any Family

Article excerpt

BEING THE MOTHER OF BOY/GIRL TWINS MYSELF, I laughed recently to learn of a squabble between St. Benedict and his twin sister, St. Scholastica. Each year the two would meet at a farmhouse between her convent and his monastery and spend the day delightedly speaking of God.

But one year, as darkness started to fall, Benedict began to fret about getting back to the monastery. Scholastica begged him to stay. He refused. Disappointed, she dropped her head--not in sadness, apparently, but in prayer. Immediately a raging thunderstorm split the sky, preventing travel. Realizing what she'd done, Benedict cried out like any brother would, thwarted by a pesky sister. She coyly replied, "You were unwilling to listen to me. I asked my Lord, and he listened to me."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Benedict, the father of Western monasticism, who died in 543, wrote his famous Rule to teach monks how to live harmoniously under one roof together--advice that's also helpful for siblings fighting over the bathroom or parents coaxing children to go to sleep. Here are some topics from Benedict's Rule, served up family style.

1. Living among others improves us. We have our rough edges worn smooth when we rub shoulders with . one another, especially at home. Christian virtues such as patience and tolerance get a better workout if we have to share a room with a brother or wait our turn for the phone.

Living in close proximity can also bring out honesty in people as few other things can--just ask the spouse who's lectured for being late or the kid who hears "You slob!" from siblings for leaving toothpaste in the sink.

Humility is another theme Benedict is especially keen on; not only does it help us with patience, tolerance, and the honest little barbs slung at us by loved ones every day, it keeps us open to new kinds of wisdom. Benedict, for instance, advised abbots to ask for advice even from novices, something we could do by taking the opinions of our children more seriously.

2. Work and prayer balance us. "Fall often into prayer," writes Benedict. …

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