A reflection on the purpose of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB
The Rule of St. Benedict outlines for us how to live a righteous life, and most importantly, it leads us to love. At the end of our lives, we will be judged by love. Just as the law isn’t going to save us so the Rule isn’t going to save us. But if we do what it says, it leads us to love.
In the Prologue, St. Benedicts says that his Rule is from “a father who loves you” (RB Prologue:1). His bottom line is that he’s writing it out of love. According to the dialogues of St. Gregory, at the end of Benedict’s life, his love needed to be perfected. So St. Scholastica, who was more perfect in love, was there to show him this last mark of his life that was needed—that love triumphs. The law was good and necessary, but it leads to love, and that’s its only purpose. (Click here for Gregory the Great’s account of this meeting).
Again, we hear in the Rule that “as we advance in the religious life and faith, we shall run the way of God’s commandments with expanded hearts and unspeakable sweetness of love” (RB Prologue:49). That’s what we’re all supposed to become. That’s what St. Benedict so desires for us. It is nothing more than the gospel message to love God and love our neighbor, and he shows us clearly a way to do this in his Rule. I challenge everyone to read Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule and pick one thing to work on for the good of the Body of Christ, for the better of another, for love. Do this seriously, that Christ may look upon you and say, “What a light in this world, which is so needed. I see clearly that my death meant something.” And in this way we will comfort the heart of Christ.
A reflection on the
triumph of Love by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB
I was thinking about the incredible words we sing during the Divine Office on the Feast of St. Andrew: “Seeing the cross [of his own martyrdom], Andrew cried out with joy, ‘O precious cross! Truly I have always loved you, and I have desired to embrace you.’”
This is a disciple who ran away in the garden of Gethsemane—he
didn’t stand by Jesus on the cross—so the greatest gift that could be given to
him was another chance to stand by the cross. What did he do with it? He
embraced it. He longed for that moment to tell Christ, “I love you, and I want
to be with you, wherever that leads.” This is the power of the triumph of the
cross. Love is the triumph of the
cross. When we love enough that we no longer fear the crosses in our lives but
we embrace them and we long for them because they unite us with him who has
loved us beyond all love, that is the triumph of the cross. So today we
celebrate that we no longer fear the cross; it is truly the exaltation. Of
course we cannot do this of ourselves. St. Andrew, St. Peter, none of them,
could have embraced the cross on their own, but with divine strength they could
embrace and kiss it. And their suffering turned into gratitude. Yes, when we
can thank God for the crosses in our life, God has triumphed. When we can see
that it is Love that has given us once again the chance to prove our love, we
will rejoice and say, “Amen!” and run toward it, because we have a chance to
prove our love. Let us pray today that the cross may triumph in our own lives, because
it will not happen on our own. It is completely divine strength.
May this Easter season bring you much joy in the
resurrection of Our Lord, who suffered his cross for the love of us, that we might
have a sense of the depths of his love and desire to return our love for his.