Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Christ, the Way

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Benedict immediately goes on, Christo omnino nihil praeponant. Absolutely nothing is to be placed before Christ. This is the crown of it. Christ is first, center, power, and the meaning of our life—the total center. The abbot has this meaning because he is the sacrament of Christ, and we need sacraments. He is there to help us come to Christ. But absolutely nothing is to prefered to Christ [RB 72:11].

Benedict completes it with, qui nos pariter ad vitam aeternam perducat. Christ who leads us to eternal life. The good zeal he is talking about is essentially Christ who leads us to it. Benedict has that one significant word there, pariter. Who leads us together to eternal life. We go together. Benedict is a cenobite through and through. As monks gathered together in community, we are one in Christ. Together Christ leads us to eternal life. We go together.

Benedict traces this whole way of honoring one another, caring for each other, wanting what is best for each other, loving each other with Christ’s love, brotherly love. We are then able to love God, to love Christ. Loving the abbot is the sacrament by which Christ leads us. But ultimately it is Christ who is the center. It is Christ who leads us all together into life eternal.

Eternal life. The beginning of that life is already here. We are already led into eternal life. We have eternal life within us. We are baptized into the risen Christ who lives now and dies no more [Rom 6:9]. And I live now not I, but Christ lives in me [Gal 2:20]. This is, in Benedict’s mind, is where this way leads. It is the whole way of the Rule leading us to this fullness of life in Christ Jesus, life together, life centered totally in risen Christ. For Christ is the risen Christ in us and in our midst—in each other. Above all, we find Christ in the community and in each other. And may the Divine Assistance remain with us always. Amen.

Abbot M. Basil Pennington, OCSO
The Good Zeal of Monks
A talk given on the Rule of Saint Benedict
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery
Thursday, April 4, 2002

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