St. Benedict's question from the Gospel of Matthew, "Friend, for what have you come?" is a question we each must consider regularly as we orient ourselves along the path we are called to follow. Whether one's vocation is religious, priestly, diaconal, lay, or some combination thereof, the soul's answer to this question looks no different than the answers of those to whom our Father Benedict posed the question in the sixth century.
A Benedictine's answer to this central question is found back in the Prologue to the Rule. We come to be formed in the likeness of Christ--as souls in which God is fully at home--by means, as Sr. Joan writes, of "a way of life immersed in the Scriptures, devoted to the common life, and dedicated to the development of human community . . . simple, regular, and total, a way of living . . ."
When we have walked a long while on a certain path, it is to be expected that challenges will arise when we are called to change course and follow a different way. We must each encounter our own dark night of the soul as our attachments to old ways of being are removed and we become acclimated to life in union with God. Our ability to persist in the face of these challenges depends on the clarity of our our intention, on our firm answer to our Father Benedict's question, "Friend, for what have you come?"