The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 32
In a society built upon the proliferation, consumption, and discarding of commodities, I hear from this chapter a radically alternative way of relating to physical property. Caring for the things we have, treating them as God-given gifts and responsibilities, orients our lives within an economy wherein enoughness and generosity are the operative values.
The victims of a hurricane or severe winter storm that cuts off their supply of electricity or fuel face the question of necessity in a critical way. When we are unable to take our possessions for granted, we are forced to recognize the ways in which our property relates to our values. At once our inability to charge our mobile devices seems like a silly, childish concern next to the needs of our elderly neighbors for food, water, and heat.
What if our everyday values reflected the sacrifice and charity that normally manifests only in times of crisis? What if our sense of well-being included limits on our consumption and the intention to share our resources with those in need? This is the economy of enoughness and generosity that our Father Benedict desires to nurture among us.