We’ve lived through some hard and challenging times this year, and we are all too aware that there’s more hardship and uncertainty to come. In the middle of that we’re celebrating the feast of St Benedict so I’ve been looking to the Rule for wisdom and insights for these times. As usual it doesn’t disappoint me. The first thing that comes to mind is St Benedict’s teaching on Lent. He tells us that “the life of a monastic ought to be a continuous Lent”!
The current crisis came to light in Lent and as we moved into lockdown it seemed that everything we were going through was deepening our experience of Lent. We were compelled to surrender more and more of what we held dear, it has been a painful and challenging time. But our Christian journey isn’t only about Lent and, as St Benedict reminds us, the purpose of our Lenten practices is to enable us to celebrate the joy of Easter. So although I started with his teaching on Lent I’ve shifted the focus of my reflection to the Prologue of the Rule:
“As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run in the way of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”
These words have made me aware of a bigger picture. Even in painful and hard times Christian life is never only about pain and suffering. It is also about joy and love and hope. St Benedict wrote his Rule from the experience of a life that had plenty of challenges and hardships. He lived in a time when social structures were beginning to disintegrate with all the painful consequences that had for individuals and in communities. Out of, and in the midst, of that hard experience he can speak of the “inexpressible delight of love.” It seems to me that in the midst of our current hardships we also need to discover and relish joy, hope and delight in our lives and our relationships with one another.
Where are you discovering the inexpressible delight of love in your life today?