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 has generated within me the phenomenon that our Father Benedict sees as so wicked and destructive. How have the roots of this vice infiltrated the soil of my soul in which the Gospel has been planted? Is the Gospel kept from growing and bearing fruit because of them? And how does one pull up the roots while living outside of a monastery?
One way I find the vice of possessiveness creeping into my life is in my attachment to the particulars of my vocation and ministry. I recognize that deep within myself I have begun to tighten my grip on a vision of how the future will unfold, and I am attached to my specific place within it. Our Father Benedict modeled for us 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. His enduring ministry is to facilitate spiritual formation towards a living experience of union with God in Christ, and he does so by always pointing away from himself, like St. John the Baptist, toward the true bridegroom of our souls. May we follow in his footsteps so that we, free from possessiveness, can be vessels for God's enduring work in the world.