Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option has brought light to the contribution and possibilities of the Benedictine way of life to a wider audience, but it is important to understand the foundations of Benedictine spirituality. It is a way for all Christians–not just for monks and nuns. It is a supremely practical and down to earth spiritual path. At the same time it is dignified, commodious, courteous and civilized.
Here begins a little series on the vows of the Benedictine monk and how they relate to our lives.
The Benedictine Monk takes three vows: Stability, Obedience and Conversion of Life. The three vows are braided together like three strands of a strong rope.
Each of the vows has a concrete expression. The vow of stability means the monk promises to remain in one community for life. He commits himself to one family of monks, one place, one set of buildings, one way of life. The whole point is to stop him doing ‘a geographical’. He’s not allowed to run away. Stability teaches us that God is not elsewhere. We’ll find him here. We’ll find him now, or we won’t find him anyhow.
Stability is a rock. By committing to the here and the now, St. Benedict also wants his monks to be spiritually rooted. The Benedictine Way is deeply incarnational. The spiritual realities are always fleshed out in ordinary life and as a result, the ordinary realities are always charged with the grandeur of God.Because the monk is rooted in a real place and a real time and a real community and a real routine of work, prayer and reading, his inner life also starts to achieve the kind of stability in which growth is possible. Conversely, because his inner life is rooted and grounded he is able to perceive all the minute richness of the ordinary life–which if he were hurrying about–he would most certainly overlook.
Stability is serious, quiet, humble and serene. Stability eschews the remarkable, the phantasmagoical, the stupendous and the charismatic. Stability says, “Stop, Look and Listen.” God is here. Christ is knocking at the door.