how to Be A Monastic And Not Leave Your Day Job. and invitation to obilate life
Brother Benet Tvedten
This book was like a bag of M&M's. You buy it, take it home, tear off the corner of the bag with the intention of eating just a few of the sweet candies and saving the rest for later. But after getting a taste for the sweet chocolate, accedentally finishing the whole bag in one setting. The book is only a little over 100 pages. I sat down with it and found it to be a very easy read with fabulous dry humor and wonderful content, so I finished it in a very short period of time. I need to stop eating so many books. I'm probably gaining weight.
Back to monasticism...When I ordered this book on Amazon I don't think I realized it was specifically about the rule of Saint Benedict, not that that is a bad thing. I learned many things about the Benedictine Rule and the orders of St. Benedict that I wouldn't have known otherwise. For instance, I wouldn't have to be a catholic in order to join the third order of the Benedictines, the oblate.
I picked up the book because I didn't know much about the third or secular order of Monasticism. Some of you may remember a tall skinny blond I dated last year named Steve, his mom was a secular Franciscan. I didn't really know at the time what that ment. Steve was in my life just as I was beginning to become interested in monasticism. If I had known then what I know now about it all she and I would have had some serious conversations and I may have been on my way at the moment to becomming a Franciscan. But alas, God had other plans. I do not even know if as a Protestant that door would be open to me.
Which leads into a good monologue of if I didn't have the option to become a secular Franciscan would I join the Benedictines...
The Benedictine rule is said to be a beginers rule for ordering life on the way to perfection. The rule is not a burden. It is easy and there is room for mistakes. Benedict was diligent in emphasizing the need for balance. Never go to extremes in anything. Too much wine is bad. Too much food is bad. Too much scripture is even bad. In all things moderation is best and balance between labor and study is ideal. For an oblate (one choosing the Benedictine rule belonging to a monastary but living outside their walls in a secular profession) that means study of the way of Christ and Christ-like buisiness practices, raising children and being a spouce in a way to glorify God and other such things. However I have two issues with their practice. First is their ambiguous stance on justice. In the rule Benedict states that they will actively persue peace and justice but today in praxis it is hard to decide what role they will take and it has been translated into a kind of individual place for interpretation. Some followers are very diligent in serving God in love and in ways that are actively working towards world justice and others are ignorant of the whole conversation. The intire spectrum exists. There doesn't seem to be any firm voices at this time saying that the Benedictines will commit themselves to justice in specific ways in this age.
My other issue is their value of stability. Don't get me wrong, I value stability but God doesn't seem to have called me to stability at this point in life. In my mind I am a friar, not a monk. The difference is the monk belongs to his monastery whereas the friar roams the country side in small clusters preaching and serving where ever the Lord leads. I am convinced this is the life I am called to at this time. I do desire stability in community but in a community of friars, not monks. I really did appreciate the book and I learned many things. Now I want to know about other secular monastic orders.