Fr. Mauritius discusses the distinction between forgiving and forgetting. He encourages us to ask God in prayer, “Father, give me the grace to forgive. Give me the grace to reconcile.” Also, there is a difference between forgiving and reconciling.
Be at peace with ourselves
Be at peace with others
Be at peace with God
From Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict:
To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun. And ever to despair of God’s mercy.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents;[k] 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii;[l] and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers,[m] till he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
It is well known that there are four kinds of monks. The first kind is that of Cenobites, that is, the monastic, who live under a rule and an Abbot.
The second kind is that of Anchorites, or Hermits, that is, of those who, no longer in the first fervor of their conversion, but taught by long monastic practice and the help of many brethren, have already learned to fight against the devil; and going forth from the rank of their brethren well trained for single combat in the desert, they are able, with the help of God, to cope single-handed without the help of others, against the vices of the flesh and evil thoughts.
But a third and most vile class of monks is that of Sarabaites, who have been tried by no rule under the hand of a master, as gold is tried in the fire (cf Prov 27:21); but, soft as lead, and still keeping faith with the world by their works, they are known to belie God by their tonsure. Living in two’s and three’s, or even singly, without a shepherd, enclosed, not in the Lord’s sheepfold, but in their own, the gratification of their desires is law unto them; because what they choose to do they call holy, but what they dislike they hold to be unlawful.
But the fourth class of monks is that called Landlopers, who keep going their whole life long from one province to another, staying three or four days at a time in different cells as guests. Always roving and never settled, they indulge their passions and the cravings of their appetite, and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites. It is better to pass all these over in silence than to speak of their most wretched life.
Therefore, passing these over, let us go on with the help of God to lay down a rule for that most valiant kind of monks, the Cenobites.
Father Mauritius Wilde, OSB, Ph.D., did his philosophical, theological and doctoral studies in Europe. He is the author of several books and directs retreats regularly. He serves as Prior of our monastery in Schuyler.
We begin the reflection of the life of St. Benedict by using the biography penned by St. Gregory the Great. This episode looks at the pivotal discernment he made as a young man to pursue the religious life. The aspect of detachment from our earthly family, particularly our earthly fathers, in favor of our Heavenly Father, is explored by Fr. Mauritius.
THERE was a man of venerable life, Benedict by name and grace, who from the time of his very childhood carried the heart of an old man. His demeanour indeed surpassing his age, he gave himself no disport or pleasure, but living here upon earth he despised the world with all the glory thereof, at such time as he might have most freely enjoyed it. He was born in the province of Nursia of honourable parentage and sent to Rome to study the liberal sciences. But when he saw there many through the uneven paths of vice run headlong
to their own ruin, he drew back his foot, but new-set in the world, lest, in the search of human knowledge, he might also fall into the same dangerous precipice. Contemning therefore learning and studies and abandoning his father’s house and goods, he desired only to please God in a virtuous life. Therefore he departed skilfully ignorant and wisely unlearned.
Father Mauritius Wilde, OSB, Ph.D., did his philosophical, theological and doctoral studies in Europe. He is the author of several books and directs retreats regularly. He serves as Prior at Sant’Anselmo in Rome. For more information about the ministry of the Missionary Benedictines of Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, Ne
Benedict having now left the schools resolved to betake himself to the desert, accompanied only by his nurse who most tenderly loved him. Coming therefore to a place called Affile, and remaining for some time in the Church of St. Peter by the charitable invitement of many virtuous people who lived there for devotion, so it chanced that his nurse borrowed of a neighbour a sieve to cleanse wheat, which being left carelessly upon the table was found broken in two pieces. Therefore on her return finding it broke, she began to weep bitterly because it was only lent her. But the religious and pious boy, Benedict, seeing his nurse lament was moved with compassion, and taking with him the two pieces of the broken sieve, with tears he gave himself to prayer, which no sooner ended, but he found the sieve whole, and found not any sign that it had been broken. Then presently he restored the sieve which had been broken, whole to his nurse, to her exceeding comfort. This matter was divulged unto all that lived thereabout, and so much admired by all, that the inhabitants of that place caused the sieve to be hanged up in the Church porch, that not only those present, but all posterity might know with how great gifts of grace Benedict had been endowed from the beginning of his conversion. The sieve remained to be seen for many years after, and hung over the Church door even until the times of the Longobards.
But Benedict more desirous to suffer afflictions than covetous of praise; and rather willing to undergo labours for the honour of God, than to be extolled with the favours of this world, fled secretly from his nurse to a remote place in the desert called Subiaco, distant about forty miles from Rome, in which a fountain springing with cool and crystal waters, extendeth itself at first into a broad lake, and running farther with increase of waters becometh at the last a river.
Episode 31- The Holy Rule of St. Benedict: A Spiritual Path for Today’s World with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B., PhD.
“The Life of St. Benedict pt 4”
We continue our conversation on the life of St. Benedict by using the biography penned by St. Gregory the Great. This episode St. Benedict is visited a priest on Easter Sunday morning in the cave and is called from his seclusion.
Now when it pleased Almighty God that Romanus should rest from his labours, and that the life of Benedict should be manifest to the world for an example to all men, that the candle set upon a candlestick might shine and give light to the whole Church of God, our Lord vouchsafed to appear to a certain Priest living far off, who had make ready his dinner for Easter Day, saying to him: “Thou hast prepared good cheer for thyself, and My servant in such a place is famished for hunger.” Who presently rose up, and on the solemn day of Easter went towards the place with such meat as he had provided for himself, where seeking the man of God, amongst craggy rocks, winding valleys and hollow pits he found him hid in a cave. Then after prayers, and blessing the Almighty Lord, they sat down, and after some spiritual discourse the Priest said: “Rise, and let us take our refection, for this is Easter Day.” To whom the man of God answered: “I know it is Easter, because I have found so much favour as to see thee.” (For not having a long time conversed with men, he did not know it was Easter Day.) The good Priest did therefore again affirm it, saying: “Truly this is the day of our Lord’s Resurrection, and therefore it is not fit that you should keep abstinence, and for this cause I am sent that we may eat together that which Almighty God hath bestowed on us.” Whereupon blessing God, they fell to their meat. Their discourse and dinner ended, the Priest returned to his Church.
Episode 33- The Holy Rule of St. Benedict: A Spiritual Path for Today’s World with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B., Ph.D.
“The Life of St. Benedict pt 6”
We continue our conversation on the life of St. Benedict by using the biography penned by St. Gregory the Great. In this episode St. Benedict deals with serious temptation. If God calls you to restrain from something for the sake of His Kingdom, for the greater Love, this can include suffering and tension. We often try to avoid that. St. Benedict desires to be free and detached. So Benedict takes action in order to be open to grace and the love of God. His method in this story may seem archaic to some, but it shouldn’t stop us from examining how we deal with temptation.
The holy man being on a certain day alone, the tempter was at hand; for a little black bird, commonly called an ousel, began to fly about his face, and that so near as the holy man, if he would. might have taken it with his hand; but no sooner had he made the sign of the cross than the bird vanished. When presently so great a carnal temptation assailed him, that before the holy man had never felt the like. For the remembrance of a woman which some time he had seen, was so lively represented to his fancy by the wicked spirit, and so vehemently did her image inflame his breast with lustful desires, that almost overcome by pleasure, he was determining to leave the wilderness. But suddenly assisted with divine
grace he came to himself, and, seeing near him a thicket full of nettles and briars, he threw off his garments and cast himself naked into the midst of those sharp thorns and nettles, where he rolled himself so long, that, when he rose up, all his body was pitifully rent; thus by the wounds of his flesh he cured those of his soul, by turning pleasure into pain; and by the vehemence of outward torments he extinguished the unlawful flame which burnt within overcoming sin by changing the fire. After which time, as he himself related to his disciples, he was so free from the like temptation, that he never felt any such motion.
Today, I would like to speak about Benedict, the Founder of Western Monasticism and also the Patron of my Pontificate. I begin with words that St Gregory the Great wrote about St Benedict: “The man of God who shone on this earth among so many miracles was just as brilliant in the eloquent exposition of his teaching” (cf. Dialogues II, 36). The great Pope wrote these words in 592 A.D. The holy monk, who had died barely 50 years earlier, lived on in people’s memories and especially in the flourishing religious Order he had founded. St Benedict of Norcia, with his life and his work, had a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture. The most important source on Benedict’s life is the second book of St Gregory the Great’s Dialogues. It is not a biography in the classical sense. In accordance with the ideas of his time, by giving the example of a real man – St Benedict, in this case – Gregory wished to illustrate the ascent to the peak of contemplation which can be achieved by those who abandon themselves to God. He therefore gives us a model for human life in the climb towards the summit of perfection. St Gregory the Great also tells in this book of the Dialogues of many miracles worked by the Saint, and here too he does not merely wish to recount something curious but rather to show how God, by admonishing, helping and even punishing, intervenes in the practical situations of man’s life. Gregory’s aim was to demonstrate that God is not a distant hypothesis placed at the origin of the world but is present in the life of man, of every man.
This perspective of the “biographer” is also explained in light of the general context of his time: straddling the fifth and sixth centuries, “the world was overturned by a tremendous crisis of values and institutions caused by the collapse of the Roman Empire, the invasion of new peoples and the decay of morals”. But in this terrible situation, here, in this very city of Rome, Gregory presented St Benedict as a “luminous star” in order to point the way out of the “black night of history” (cf. John Paul II, 18 May 1979).
In fact, the Saint’s work and particularly his Rule were to prove heralds of an authentic spiritual leaven which, in the course of the centuries, far beyond the boundaries of his country and time, changed the face of Europe following the fall of the political unity created by the Roman Empire, inspiring a new spiritual and cultural unity, that of the Christian faith shared by the peoples of the Continent. This is how the reality we call “Europe” came into being.
St Benedict was born around the year 480. As St Gregory said, he came “ex provincia Nursiae” – from the province of Norcia. His well-to-do parents sent him to study in Rome. However, he did not stay long in the Eternal City. As a fully plausible explanation, Gregory mentions that the young Benedict was put off by the dissolute lifestyle of many of his fellow students and did not wish to make the same mistakes. He wanted only to please God: “soli Deo placere desiderans” (II Dialogues, Prol. 1). Thus, even before he finished his studies, Benedict left Rome and withdrew to the solitude of the mountains east of Rome. After a short stay in the village of Enfide (today, Affile), where for a time he lived with a “religious community” of monks, he became a hermit in the neighbouring locality of Subiaco. He lived there completely alone for three years in a cave which has been the heart of a Benedictine Monastery called the “Sacro Speco” (Holy Grotto) since the early Middle Ages. The period in Subiaco, a time of solitude with God, was a time of maturation for Benedict. It was here that he bore and overcame the three fundamental temptations of every human being: the temptation of self-affirmation and the desire to put oneself at the centre, the temptation of sensuality and, lastly, the temptation of anger and revenge. In fact, Benedict was convinced that only after overcoming these temptations would he be able to say a useful word to others about their own situations of neediness. Thus, having tranquilized his soul, he could be in full control of the drive of his ego and thus create peace around him. Only then did he decide to found his first monasteries in the Valley of the Anio, near Subiaco.
In the year 529, Benedict left Subiaco and settled in Monte Cassino. Some have explained this move as an escape from the intrigues of an envious local cleric. However, this attempt at an explanation hardly proved convincing since the latter’s sudden death did not induce Benedict to return (II Dialogues, 8). In fact, this decision was called for because he had entered a new phase of inner maturity and monastic experience. According to Gregory the Great, Benedict’s exodus from the remote Valley of the Anio to Monte Cassio – a plateau dominating the vast surrounding plain which can be seen from afar – has a symbolic character: a hidden monastic life has its own raison d’être but a monastery also has its public purpose in the life of the Church and of society, and it must give visibility to the faith as a force of life. Indeed, when Benedict’s earthly life ended on 21 March 547, he bequeathed with his Rule and the Benedictine family he founded a heritage that bore fruit in the passing centuries and is still bearing fruit throughout the world.