Fr. Laurence's Saint Benedict's Day Message - July 2019
I am here at Bonnevaux and I want to wish you a very happy Saint Benedict's Day, 2019.
This is our first Saint Benedict's day here in Bonnevaux! It has been a very wonderful and festive day. A very full day as we have had visitors from around the world. We celebrated Mass, with meditation of course, at midday and we also had a wonderful BBQ provided by our Brazilian oblate community Tanya, Marco and Klara yesterday evening. Around the world a celebration like this unites people and it unites us in our particular culture, our own particular place and we celebrate in our own particular way. It is very important that we have this sense today I think of local and the global. We need to be grounded locally in our own place where we have roots and where we belong where we have a home it is a really deep human this is what know we call stability. And at the same time we can’t become insular nationalistic one of the problems of our modern world is that we are becoming frightened of the global consciousness. So many movements today are looking away from the global reality of humanity, the universal family and just staying with their nationalistic family.
Saint Benedict has a very important lesson for us all, it is ‘If we become truly local, truly grounded and rooted in our place then we will be open to receive the wisdom and the gifts and the visits and respond to the needs of people from all over the world. We will feel that we belong to a universal human family. And the mystery of this for us of course, and Saint Benedict himself was the mystery of Christ. That in Christ who is within us in the most deeply and personal and intimate way, ‘Christ within you’ this same Christ is the cosmic Christ and Christ who is building up his body not only on this planet among human race but indeed cosmically. So this is the way of understanding I think that Benedict allows us to make sense of in a practical way. The vow of Stability we take as oblates and monks is about belonging and allowing ourselves to belong and allowing ourselves to be known by the people that we share community with the people who come to know us and see our faults and our foibles. And we also have in the wisdom of St. Benedict this vow of Obedience which is a deep listening. A listening to the word of God active and penetrating and sharp and sometimes painful, teaching us truths that we would rather not learn, teaching us to let go of illusions and false ideas that we have become attached to. The word of God can be painful, ‘sharp as a double edged sword’ as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us. But this allows us to listen and to listen with our whole being and to allow this work of the liberating, enriching word of God to take place we allow it to happen. The other great vow we live locally and globally is the vow of Conversion- the readiness to change and realising that life is about change. And although it seems to me more and more in human affairs we can see that people are frightened of change sometimes we are frightened to change even circumstances where we are unhappy. We prefer to remain unhappy because it is familiar to us. But the commitment to change transformation is central to Benedict’s vision of the spiritual life.
A very blessed and happy Saint Benedict's day from Bonnevaux all of us here send you our love. If you come and visit us in the near future either on your own or with other oblates we would be delighted to welcome you to your home here at Bonnevaux.
Laurence Freeman OSB
11 July 2019