It’s no exaggeration to say that Saint Benedict changed the course of human history. At a time when Western society was falling apart, the monasteries that followed his Rule became oases of stability and hope. People were attracted by the monks’ peaceful presence, and many decided to move house in order to be closer to them. In some cases, whole towns and cities sprang up around these centres of prayer.
Benedict and his monks have much in common with the twelve apostles. Our Lord sent these men into the towns around Galilee to ‘get their hands dirty,’ not just to talk. Just as Benedictines commit themselves to a life of prayer and work, so Our Lord called the apostles to heal the sick, cast out demons, and cleanse lepers. They needed to be men of prayer, but their prayer was meant to empower them to do the work of the kingdom: Opus Dei.
None of us are monks, but we can still bring God’s presence into our world as the early Benedictines did. Our own community and the religious life we lead here is also an oasis of peace and stability—even if it is, at times, filled with the bustle of activity. It is a place where the Gospel is lived, where people sense God’s peace and acceptance, and where hearts are drawn to God.
The heart of Saint Benedict’s way of life lies in getting closer to God, in becoming holy. It lies in developing a solid relationship with God and spending time with him in prayer. It lies in the reverent celebration of the Mass and the frequent practice of confession. It lies in accepting the truth and preaching the truth to all those we meet. If we do this, then like Saint Benedict, we too can change the world.