Sisters Celebrate Benedictine Awareness Week at the University of Mary - 3/21/12

Benedictine Awareness Reflection
University of Mary
Sister Nancy Miller, Prioress
March 21, 2012

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Benedict, a special day for all Benedictines. Walking the Benedictine way is open to all of us who truly want to make Jesus Christ the center of our lives.

In his Rule, St. Benedict takes us by the hand and points us to the Sacred Scriptures and ultimately to Christ himself. “Prefer nothing to Christ,” he says. His rule is a guide for Christian living in concrete everyday situations.

In March of every year, we Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, the founders and sponsors of the University of Mary, plan special Benedictines Awareness Days. We do this because we are passionate about teaching and passing on the values espoused by St. Benedict. Some of St. Benedict’s teachings we strive to implement at the University of Mary are the emphasis on community (being there for one another) respect for persons (treating others with dignity) service, (reaching out and helping people) hospitality (welcoming the stranger as friend) and prayer, (opening ourselves to the Word of God) moderation (striving for balance in our lives)

We see the Benedictine way as vital to transforming our global society from the wounds of violence, war and injustice to one in which people can live in peace, harmony and love. We need you to live and pass on these values to make a positive impact on our troubled world.

Our world is much like the one St. Benedict lived in more than 1500 years ago in Italy. Civilization was decaying and there were all the evils that come with constant warfare. In the midst of this upheaval, Benedict was born to a well-off middle class family. He went to Rome to study, but found such chaos and decadence that he fled to the mountains to live as a hermit. He managed to do that for three years before people found him and discovered what a holy man of God he was. They asked him to teach them how to seek God and how to live in joy and peace.

So Benedict started monasteries where people could live together to help each other on the journey to God. He wrote a Rule which has endured down the centuries because it is so Scripture based and centered on how to love God and neighbor. There are hundreds of references to both the Old and the New Testament. Benedict memorized and meditated on the Scriptures and let them permeate to the core of his being. When he wrote the Rule, I am sure he wasn’t consulting the Bible to find Scripture passages. They just flowed out of his heart.

Benedict was remarkable because he was able to give people practical ways to follow Christ and become people of love. For instance, the first word of the Rule is, “Listen.” And then Benedict adds “with the ear of your heart.” Benedict wants us to listen to God not only with our ears but with our hearts. The heart is where the core of the person is. That is where seed of the Word of God falls. Through acting on what we hear in our hearts, we can be led by God in the way of love.

During these last weeks of Lent, I invite you to take some time in silence to listen to God speaking to your heart. What is God saying to you in your life’s situation at this time? If you are carrying heavy burdens, ask God to comfort you. If you have decisions to make, ask God to help you. Above all, sit in the presence of the God who loves you unconditionally --- no matter what you have done in the past ----- and let that love overflow into your heart. Listen to God and become a person of love. Listen.

With the ear of your heart.



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