Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Passing of Our Holy Father St. Benedict



Towards the end of his life, Benedict is praying alone in a tower room before the others are awake. He prays how? standing at the window (ad fenestram stans83) looking out over the sleeping countryside. . . . Oninipotentem Deuin deprecans85—this seems to indicate prayer of supplication, petition, but is not to be taken too strictly. In the midst of the darkness he suddenly sees a great light, brighter than the light of day. In this light, he sees the "whole world gathered together as though in one ray of the sun"'—a contemplative intuition of creatures in God, of creation itself in God—an intuition of the divine wisdom, the Sophia of God, containing all things. {This is} not a direct vision of the divine essence. St. Thomas explains (lla IIae, Q. 180, a. 5 ad. 3)" it was a divine illumination in which all things are seen, not a vision of God Himself, but a vision of a divine light considered as somehow distinct from the divine essence—a light in which creatures are seen though not God Himself. What else {is it} but the wisdom of God? The vision is not enough in itself—he receives a prophetic vision of the soul of Germanus, bishop of Capua, ascending into heaven. Benedict was a soul of the highest contemplation, whose prayer was united with lofty charismatic gifts as well as attaining the heights of mysticism.

The beautiful death of St. Benedict is the climax of his life of prayer. Perhaps fit takes place on} Holy Thursday, 547. He dies in the midst of the brethren, "standing" in prayer,'` supported by them after receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Thomas Merton
The Rule of St. Benedict; O'Connell, Patrick J., ed. pp. 37-38


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