Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

For the Feast of St. Benedict

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3. Behold, today we celebrate the feast of our holy Father Benedict. What was Saint Benedict? Without a doubt a man like you, like him, like me. His flesh is the same as your flesh. You and he are both of the same material. Why therefore was he able to do what you are not? When but a boy, young and tender, he left the world and fled from his parents. You, however, grown-up, wise, and prudent, you dream of the world and sigh after your parents. If you plead your serious temptations, he, as you know, was tempted even more seriously. Nevertheless he resisted in manly fashion; you succumb easily.

4. Let those who are like this conceive a great shame because they see that a mere boy seizes the kingdom of heaven with such violence (Matt. 11:12) while they themselves now seek soft living and delights. Let those who are lukewarm blush when they contemplate the fervor of Saint Benedict. Let the impatient blush when they hear of the patience of Saint Benedict. Let the proud blush when they read of his humility. Let gluttons blush when they contemplate his abstinence.

5. Someone may ask, "But how can I overcome this natural desire?" How did Saint Benedict overcome it? He did what the apostle ordered: Walk in the Spirit and you will not satisfy the desires of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16) Therefore, my brothers, let us walk in the Spirit; let us not satisfy the desires of the flesh, and they will not overcome us. But what does it mean to walk in the Spirit? It means to live according to the Spirit. We ought to know that the Spirit has her desires and her counsels, and the flesh has its desires and its counsels. As it seems to me, we ought to understand by this-the phrase to walk in the Spirit, I mean-not our own spirit but the Holy Spirit who creates good desires in us.

Aelred of Rievaulx
The Liturgical Sermons, 37: 3-5
Cistercian Fathers Series #77, pp.78-79

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