Benedictine Community: A Spiritual Heart Changing the World

Benedictines are not in this world to serve themselves. We are here to be Christ in the world in living our charism and Benedictine values faithfully. The monastery, and by extension wherever vowed members and oblates are, should contribute to the quality of life around us, bring God’s love to all those we meet, and care for creation and the earth.

Benedictine spirituality is one of outreach, we are called to radical hospitality, extending ourselves to be a healing presence, offering respect for the dignity of others, kindness, and attentiveness to the world. Hospitality is the undergirding of our Benedictine spirituality and frees us in our search for creating a more just world.

Our Benedictine charism supports us to do justice, follow gospel nonviolence, engage in prophetic work, and serve the world.

We want to focus on outreach to youth and young people, help them know our tradition as inclusive, welcoming, grounding, and expansive. The core call is to welcome all as Christ.

Learning our history is valuable in preparing us to share these gifts with the contemporary world. Inviting more diversity into our communities, including through liturgy, is important. One of us suggested opening up monastic living for artists, writers, and other modern monks and seekers. We also value simply showing up together in a variety of situations, groups, and events, being the presence of the Christ where we are, being Benedictine outside of the monastery. Our participants were almost all from Northern American monasteries but it’s worth noting that there are Benedictines around the world who are facing similar situations and raising similar questions and concerns. There are international Benedictine organizations which we can access online.

A lesbian participant, married to her female partner and living where the nearest Benedictine community is a male monastery, wonders whether she can hope to become an oblate.

“How do we best respond to the issues of our time as Benedictines have done in other times?” wonders one participant and another notes that Benedictine spirituality is a life-long commitment to the counter-cultural. After a presenter suggested our life should be one of “prayer and protest,” that phrase appeared also in some comments.

  1. How do we increase the visibility of Benedictine communities, whether physically situated in/around a monastery or not? How can we be more visible in the world?

  2. What language do we need to begin changing in order to begin changing mindsets?

  3. How do we invite more diverse populations into Benedictinism?

  4. How do we envision the monastery as a center for spiritual formation and learning? Or, if it already is, how can we make it known that it exists, and that the offerings are what are needed now? Are we offering what younger generations are seeking?

  5. How do we bring a Benedictine presence to the issue of our day, people on the margins (migrants, people of color, the poor, other persecuted or oppressed groups) and care for our earth?