Paul writes – At the close of 2007 and on into 2008 I’m reading a commentary (of sorts) on the Rule of St. Benedict (grounded in the Catholic / Western Monastic tradition). It’s a long way (backwards) from the English Puritans and its funny how my Jesus-following journey has gone backwards in order to go forwards!
“The plan Benedict sets down in his Rule is only to help us live the Gospel. [To live the Gospel] is the evangelical life.” It is “to live a life centered on Christ” i.e. as a disciple of Christ. That bears repeating – the evangelical life is a life centered on Christ and committed to living the gospel.
This, for me, is the dominant thought occurs to me as I reflect of Benedict’s understanding of the “evangelical life.” For Benedict it simply derives from the centering one’s life on Christ and living the gospel. Actually trying to quietly and humbly live the gospel in the contexts and circumstances we find ourselves in
The kind of language illustrated by the quotes in yesterday’s post, doesn’t accord for me, with these concluding words from Basil Pennington (as he talks about Benedict’s Rule):
“There is a God who loves you and wants to give you everything [italics, his], including himself. God wants to bring you into the fullness of divine joy and life. That is what it is all about. When we are in touch with that, there is a deep joy in our being because we have all that we are made for. All that we are called to.”
So, my Jesus-following journey continues… but now I’m less inclined than ever to want to label myself “Evangelical” – the description has lost the meaning I once attached to it. It means (in practical terms) something different today; something I’m increasingly unsettled by and ill at ease with.
I’m more in agreement with St. Benedict and I’m more inclined to a middle-way to a broader, deeper and thus richer Church. NZ Anglican priest Bosco Peters (From memory Bosco is an Associate of our sole Cistercian Abbey – Southern Star Abbey at Kopua, so including his thoughts creates a nice Cistercian link with Pennington) helpfully describes this “middle way” in these terms – “Not traditionalist nor liberal – but contemplative and missional.”
He further writes:
“…I do not consider my stance, nor the approach of this site, to be either traditionalist or liberal - but contemplative. This bypasses ideologies and appreciates God’s relationship with us in every context. This allows a listening to and appreciation of positions that vary from traditional to radical issue by issue – rather than all holding every opinion the same on every issue. A contemplative position also allows one to listen to and understand perspectives that may differ from each other radically, even be contradictory, and yet the contemplative can find a unity deep beneath the apparent contradiction. The contemplative respects and appreciates the individual’s journey through pain and joy, understanding human weakness and glory. The contemplative position gives primacy to loving God [and to joyfully discovering ourselves loved by God - this addition, mine]…”
Click here to read Bosco’s full post.