St. Benedict Offers Real Hope in Toxic Times

St. Benedict, Patriarch of Western Monasticism, whose feast is celebrated July 11, is a saint for our times, since Jesus Christ is the same for all times. He teaches us on every page of the Rule what it means to live as sons and daughters of the Father, through Jesus Christ his Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

Saint Paul VI in declaring St. Benedict Patron of Europe in 1964, called him “Messenger of peace, molder of union, magister of civilization, and above all herald of the religion of Christ and founder of monastic life in the West.”

Pope Benedict XVI in the 21st century said: “Today, in seeking true progress, let us also listen to the Rule of St. Benedict as a guiding light on our journey.”

Leonard Leo, in his 2023 Benedictine College 2023 Commencement Address said “St. Benedict truly changed the world. I would go so far as to say that as a result of his rule and how it shaped the Church’s influence in the world, he is among the most consequential forces in shaping Western cultural traditions and driving progress in the areas of science, art, agriculture, medicine, literature and education.”

It is easy to see the relevance of St. Benedict to our world when we celebrate his feast so soon after Independence Day.

For many people “independence” and “freedom” mean that I am free to do whatever I want. There is no regard for love of God and neighbor, or coming to know God’s will. But in Jesus Christ we have come to see freedom in a much more beautiful way. Indeed, every morning when we pray morning prayer we are reminded in the Canticle of Zechariah that God has “set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.”

More than 1500 years ago, St. Benedict faced the fall of Rome and the rise of lawlessness and corruption. He made it his life’s work to bring the Good News of the true freedom of Jesus Christ to the world. St. Benedict sees the time we have to read and pray over Sacred Scripture as free time, and we would do well to take up his example today, skipping the toxic media of our time and turning to the Gospel instead.

May we see freedom then not only as an excuse to do whatever we want, but as a time to be free to listen and pray the word of God, and to act on that Word in our daily thoughts, words and deeds. Of course, going to Mass is a great time for this freedom also: to take time to worship our Lord, to listen to His Word, and to receive that Word made Flesh whose Death and Resurrection are recalled at every Holy Mass, and received in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

The Mass shows us the one that St. Benedict points to — Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow — as our path to freedom from sin and sadness in every age.

Fr. Meinrad Miller

Father Meinrad Miller OSB has been a monk of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas, since 1985. He serves as parochial vicar at St. Benedict’s Parish and continues to teach at Benedictine College, having taught there for more than 25 years. He is Oblate Director for St. Benedict’s Abbey. Father Meinrad also serves at Valley Hope, helping women and men getting their lives together from addiction, and is State Chaplain of the 38,000 members and their families of the Kansas Knights of Columbus. His pastoral ministry includes Maur Hill Mount Academy, where he has served as a religion instructor and chaplain. He has also served as a chaplain at Benedictine College, helping bring Eucharistic Adoration to the college, and as a chaplain for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and Communion and Liberation. He has served at St. Benedict Abbey as Subprior, vocations director, and Novice Master.