“For it becomes the master to speak and to teach, but it beseems the disciple to be silent and to listen.” The Rule of St. Benedict
Fall break. I am spending a week with fourteen college students, plus my son, living the life—as near as we can—of the Benedictine monks of Clear Creek in Oklahoma. It is truly an experience of another life. A life that has the power to change the world. Indeed, once upon a time it did. A life from which we—even though most of us must live a different life—can learn much.
Perhaps the most striking feature is the silence. St. Benedict both commands silence and forbids idleness. Silence with a purpose. Silence with urgency, but peace. Silence because something needs to be done, which can only be done in silence. Silence because something needs to be learned. Through listening.
Upon seeing and hearing such silence one is struck by how strange it is. How can they do this?
Then light begins to dawn. How can the rest of us not emulate this? Somehow. For the sake of human life.
St. Benedict (480-543) is considered the father of western monasticism.