Abbot, Patriarch of Western Monasticism, and Patron of Europe
The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 33
Our culture places an unqualified positive value on a practice that our Father Benedict here calls a "most wicked vice." Private ownership generates within a human being a phenomenon that Westerners value as a firm foundation on which to build a stable society. St. Benedict looks at this same phenomenon and instructs that it is "to be cut out of the monastery by the roots."
This striking contrast prompts me to step back and question how it is that private ownership generates the phenomenon that our Father Benedict sees as so wicked and destructive. How do the roots of this vice infiltrate the soil of a soul in which the Gospel has been planted? Is the Gospel kept from growing and bearing fruit because of them?
A primary way I find the vice of possessiveness creeping into my life is through my attachment to the particulars of my vocation and ministry. I recognize a tendency deep within myself to tighten my grip on a particular vision of how the future will unfold, and I become attached to my specific place within it. By contrast, our Father Benedict's life embodies the healthy detachment of one who follows the blowing wind of the Spirit into various settings in which his vocation can be used by God, from the barren cave at Subiaco to the grandeur of Monte Cassino.
St. Benedict's enduring ministry is to facilitate the spiritual formation of those called by his name towards a living experience of union with God in Christ for the sake of the Church. And his ministry always points away from himself, like St. John the Baptist, toward the true bridegroom of our souls.
May we follow in the footsteps of our Holy Father Benedict so that we, free from possessiveness, can become vessels for God's enduring work in the world.