You want insights for living? Look to people whose understandings have been practiced for fifteen hundred years. Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, his twin sister, established a flexible pattern that has adopted, adapted, challenged—and outlived—myriad cultures. Their sons and daughters today, who devote their time and talents to the “school for the Lord’s service” launched by the Rule of Benedict, demonstrate a whole range of options that are accessible to anyone. It is a mistake to think that “forsaking the world” is the Benedictine option. Options (plural) are, instead, “for the sake of the world.”
Patrick Henry was professor of religion at Swarthmore College from 1967 to 1984 and executive director of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research from 1984 to 2004. In retirement he is a columnist for the St. Cloud Times. Among his books are New Directions in New Testament Study; For the Sake of the World: The Spirit of Buddhist and Christian Monasticism (with Donald Swearer); Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of Saint Benedict (editor); and Flashes of Grace: 33 Encounters with God.