A School for the Lord's Service
One of the principal aims of the Institute is to develop resources for spiritual growth that draw on the wisdom of the religious life.
To this end, we aim to develop a new discipleship programme based on the Rule of St Benedict, and other related sources including the works of Cassian, the lives of the fathers and the Rule of St Basil.
Benedict describes the monastery as a ‘school for the Lord’s service’, in which the monk is conformed to the pattern of Christ by means of the essential disciplines of humility and obedience. But this needn’t apply only to monks and nuns. The wisdom of the Rule is universal, and relevant to all who seek to live life according to the gospel. At a time when traditional forms of religious life, and the church more widely, are in decline, the cultivation of Christian community is perhaps more important than ever.
In keeping with the foundational principles of the Society of the Sacred Mission, the aims of the programme will be to:
- Increase the number of those giving their lives to the divine service
- Labour for the conversion and perfection of souls
- Cultivate the divine science
Whatever form it may eventually take – whether a Lent course for use in parishes, an online community or a combination of things – the plan is to create a comprehensive programme of how to live a Christian life as part of a Christian community. Rather than a course focussed on what Christians believe, this will be grounded in the lived experience of following the call to live life according to the gospels. Not so much an introduction to faith as an invitation to go deeper.
The Rule of St Benedict
St Benedict (c.480-547) lived during the dying days of the western Roman Empire, a period of great political and social turmoil that could be compared with our own time.
His ‘Rule for Monasteries’, probably composed while he was abbot of the monastery he founded at Monte Cassino in about 529, has provided a template for the religious life that endures to this day, defining not only the order that bears his name, but also the wider western monastic tradition.
Such is the value of this template that it can be applied not just to the life of a monastery, but the life of any community. As such, it has had a great influence on Christian spirituality far beyond the cloister.
We believe that the Rule has the potential to revitalise the Christian life, both corporate and personal. The text itself is relatively brief; Benedict describes it as a ‘little rule for beginners’. Yet it contains a great deal of timeless wisdom, characterised by the spirit of balance.