News from the Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery
from the current exhibit Co-Workers In the Vineyard: Words and Images from Ministry
through Saint John's School of Theology*Seminary
May 3-16, 2016
Words to the Wise
Blind obedience is itself an abuse of human morality. It is a misuse of the human soul in the name of religious commitment. It is a sin against individual conscience. It makes moral children of the adults from whom moral agency is required. It makes a vow, which is meant to require religious figures to listen always to the law of God, beholden first to the laws of very human organizations in the person of very human authorities. It is a law that isn't even working in the military and can never substitute for personal morality.
Joan Chittister


This summary by Sam Rahberg follows a reflection with the Oblates and guests of St. Paul's Monastery on 17 Apr 2016, co-facilitated with S. Jackie Leiter OSB.

Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-547) is one of the voices from Christian tradition who continues to help us understand what it means to walk together toward Christ the Light. The grand finale to the Rule of St. Benedict (RB) comes in chapter 72 on the topic of what Benedict calls "good zeal". (Bit of trivia: scholars agree that RB 73, the actual last chapter, functions as a bibliography). Having reached the bookend of all the wisdom collected in previous chapters, we might rightly wonder about Benedict's punch line for this vision of life in Christian community.

Here is the full text of RB 72 as translated by Leonard Doyle (Liturgical Press, 2001):

Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life everlasting. This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice with the most fervent love. Thus they should anticipate one another in honor (Rom. 12:10); most patiently endure one another's infirmities, whether of body or of character; vie in paying obedience one to another - no one following what she considers useful for herself, but rather what benefits another; tender the charity of sisterhood chastely; fear God in love; love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity; prefer nothing whatever to Christ. And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!

What is good zeal?

Making some allowances for the harsh language of ancient times, my reading of RB 72 suggests that Benedict is essentially urging against lukewarm discipleship. That may still leave the modern Christian wondering, what does good zeal look like? What's the point of its exercise? How do we foster it in our own relationships? I'll share some of what I bring to these questions before giving you an opportunity to pause and reflect about the call to good zeal in your own life.

I myself have long been drawn to the monastic impulse: the vision for Christian life, the sense of rhythm and structure, and the idea that a community can be built upon the footings of common commitment. The notion of good zeal, it seems to me, holds these elements together. I understand good zeal to mean the intention to continually turn toward Christ and exercise my gifts in increasing alignment with the calling of God. That calling inevitably leads toward service. Read on . . .

Coming Up . . .
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Great Conversation: Waiting for a New Calling
Thurs., May 5, 9a-1p
Sam Rahberg Oblate
Freewill offering
Discernment would be much easier if there were always a clear "yes" or "no." More often, we find ourselves in between with a "maybe." What good is the time of uncertainty to our journey? What can we do to welcome and explore the process of waiting for a new calling to emerge? Such questions, as unique to the individual as they may be, can be refined through conversation with others. Join spiritual director Sam Rahberg and for prayer and reflection in our waiting together. Limit 12 participants. Register online.
Come, Spirit, Come
Thurs., May 12, 7-9p
S. Paula Hagen OSB
May is a month of new life, new growth and a spirit longing to be free and soar in the Son-shine of the Resurrection toward new life. Come join S. Paula Hagen OSB, Prioress of St. Paul's Monastery, for a taste of Benedictine prayer that will sustain your spirit and help you be present to all the beauty and joy that summer-life holds for you and yours. Register online.
Writers' Workshops, Including a Keynote by Victor Klimoski
The Selim Center for Learning in Later Years at the University of St. Thomas is pleased to offer three educational programs this summer, including two lecture series and a writers' workshop. This flyer provides a synopsis of each program; complete program details including instructor biographies, can be found online. Victor Klimoski's keynote is "Write Your Life, Leave a Legacy" on Tues., May 24, 7-8:39p at Owens Science Hall Room 150 (3M Auditorium).
Word and Image Exhibit Now Open
open 9a-6p daily
The Word and Image exhibit is a welcome reminder that as each minister interprets their experience, they contribute to a larger process of understanding within the Church. The contributions of this small group of pastoral ministers remind us of the power of mystery to help us glimpse what might be possible for the church.  The collages and the poems they have evoked are a visible form of Benedictine hospitality welcoming viewers into symbols and words that shape the experience of this sampling of lay ecclesial ministry. Exhibit thru May 31, 2016
Explore the Benedictine Center's Latest Publication
To request a hardcopy, please email the Benedictine Center. Alternatively, Download a PDF copy to view the new edition or  explore online the upcoming opportunities for retreat, prayer and rich conversation.
Recommended Reading
The Way Forward:
A Collection of Benedictine Inspirations
Timeless meditations connecting Benedictine wisdom to everyday life. Available in print and digital editions.
Matters of Life and Death by Victor Klimoski
Poems that capture ideas that will not let go, including what it means to live up to the day we die. Available online.
Illuminating Ministry
A Journal, Vol. III
An opportunity for church leaders to join in prayer and reflection with The Saint John's Bible. Available online.
Upcoming Events
Other Events/Resources of Related Interest

Sam Rahberg, Director


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The Benedictine Center shares the monastic heritage of St. Paul's Monastery with all who seek to live with the Gospel as their guide.
Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery, 2675 Benet Road, St. Paul, MN 55109