Thursday, July 11, 2019

Memorial of Saint Benedict, abbot

(Genesis 44:18-21.23b-29.45:1-5; Matthew 10:7-15)

Today St. Benedict is being held up as a model for men and women disillusioned with Western society.  He is seen as an innovator whose legacy slowly, methodically, and completely transformed the decadent remains of Roman civilization.  Benedict’s followers established monasteries as centers of retreat, labor, and conservation of classical works.  In doing so, they were able to live the Christianity they professed while justifying its claim as the culmination of history.

The contemporary movement resurrecting the model of St. Benedict is called the “Benedict Option.”  It began with observations by the moralist Alasdair MacIntyre.  The well-regarded philosopher wrote that Western Civilization has lost its way in a morass of individualism and relativism.  He conjectured that there is no use trying to correct the situation.  Rather, he said, people of good will must begin again with the ideals of St. Benedict in mind.

Benedict himself may have seen what he did as a response to Jesus’ instructions in today’s gospel.  Jesus had a project in mind when he sent his apostles to preaching the gospel.  They were to announce the “Kingdom of heaven,” i.e., God’s remaking the world in His love.