Wednesday, May 25, 2011

(3) Benedictine Background

One aspect of the Benedictine Tradition is not specifically
written out, but *Apatheia* is a monastic backbone. Right off
it should be noted that Apatheia does NOT mean apathy. Rather
Apatheia is about reaching a psychological and emotional level
wherein a person can ward off negative passions. I suppose it's
about reaching a comfortable understanding with one's self,
eventually knowing how to sidestep these disturbing passions
that might come one's way. Of course Apatheia is an ideal, in
that being human one can only attain so much in this regard.

Having studied the philosophy of the Stoa, Apatheia was around
long before St. Benedict arrived on the scene. But, again,
Apatheia is also the backbone of the ideal Stoic Sage.

Presuming here, but if a person can prevent falling into negative
passions it leaves the person free (and somewhat sane) to live
more effectively. It's likely about being healthier. As we are
coming to know, the human immune system can be affected by
the negative passions; thus, such a situation can lead literally to
physical illness. And need it be said, there's also the danger of
mental illness if one falls too far into the abyss of negative
passions. Having said this, perhaps one can assume that
Apatheia might be a very intelligent habit to develop.

Beyond what I have already discussed, there are many other
elements covered by the Rule of St. Benedict. But I have hit upon
the main ones, and the last I shall discuss is about Hospitality.
Throughout their history Benedictines have practiced the pinnacle
of hospitality. Their monasteries have always been open to visitors,
to travelers--whether in the earlier days of the Order or now in our
own day.

In modern times the Benedictines have opened their doors to a
special group of lay people who actually become affiliated with a
particular monastery. They are called "Oblates of St. Benedict."
They receive some initial as well as on-going monastic training,
and are considered a Secular Order--the Benedictine arm out in
the world.

More so, many Benedictine monasteries provide retreats for those
who wish some spiritual direction or respite. Indeed, the need for
retreats oft challenges monastic hospitality--in that at some
monasteries there is literally a waiting list for retreats. Nonetheless,
the Benedictine door remains open, declaring "Peace" for those who
walk-in. With this, I have finished discussing the elements of the
Benedictine Tradition--and now I will move into my personal