Saint Benedict

Today is the feast of Saint Benedict, father of the Monastic Life.

St Benedict (480 – 547)

Benedict was born in Nursia, in Umbria, and studied in Rome; but he was unable to stomach the dissolute life of the city, and he became a solitary hermit at Subiaco. His reputation spread, and some monks asked him to be their abbot; but they did not like the discipline he imposed and tried to poison him.

Benedict organised various small communities of monks and nuns in various places, including the great monastery of Monte Cassino. He drew up a set of rules to guide the communal life of monasteries. Although this was not the first monastic rule ever, the Rule of St Benedict has proved so wise and balanced that it has served as the foundation of practically every attempt at communal living ever since – and not only in religious communities. The Rule of St Benedict recognises that people aim at perfection but often fall well short of it, and aims to be a “rule for beginners” in which even the least perfect and least able can grow in spiritual stature. To visit a Benedictine monastery of almost any kind is to find oneself spending time among a group of people who, by their strivings to live and grow together, have become more and more themselves, as God intended them, instead of being crushed into false uniformity by some idealistic and authoritarian regime.

For those of us in the world, too, the Rule of St Benedict has much to say: it drags our eyes up to the stars but keeps our feet firmly on the ground; it calls us to perfection but keeps us sane.”

(From “About Today” in Universalis)

I’m an Associate of New Melleray Abbey, near Peosta Iowa. (Their website) I’ve always had an attraction to the Monastic life. These people are the most happy I’ve ever met. When I’m there, I live as a Monk, praying with them 7 times a day, working in the fields at simple manual labor. My “boss”, Brother Placid (now deceased) was one of the most joy filled men I’ve ever known, filled with the love of Christ, always with a smile on his face. Here are a few pictures from over the years.

Monastic life

Brother Placid.


“Brother Jon and Brother Dan” (My son and I on our most recent time at New Melleray)

Working in the wood shop

New Melleray Wood Shop
Headed off to work.
New Melleray Abbey
New Melleray Abbey

One Reply to “Saint Benedict”

  1. Beautiful images of a place that is Home to you, Dan. I especially love the joy that’s in the photos of you and Brother Placid, and it’s special to you and Jon at the Abbey. Thanks for sharing.

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