"[W]hen the ideal [of community prayer, the Opus Dei,] is confronted by the real, Benedict opts for the sanctification of the real rather than the idealization of the holy," writes Sr. Joan in her commentary on Chapter 50. This little chapter is of central importance for those of us who seek to practice Benedictine disciplines outside of the cloister. We must be about the sanctification of the real, if we are to have any hope of staying remotely close to the path that our Father Benedict has laid out.
One way we sanctify the real is by finding the circumstances of our real life in stories of the Faith. This is how human beings have embodied the Divine Presence in the mundane settings we call "real" for thousands of years. The season of Lent draws our attention to the stuff of our real lives. Just as Jesus perceived the will of God in each temptation during his forty days in the wilderness, through our Lenten penances we attune to the transcendent meaning of our choices around food, drink, and possessions. And as Jesus' fasting prepared him to minister in a spirit of divine power, we find ourselves empowered by our Lenten fast to choose the will of God rather than the will of our passions.
As Benedictines, our experience during this and every season is shaped by the luminous Presence embodied by St. Benedict of Nursia, who teaches us that shaping our daily lives around prayer begins the process of sanctifying the real.