Monday, July 11, 2011

People that change the world

Real change is the world usually happens in what can seem to be a painfully slow pace, giving rise to the French saying, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Today two important things happen in the liturgy. We move from the book of Genesis to Exodus, and we celebrate St. Benedict of Nursia. Both of these mark true turning points.

If you have never read a book of the Bible in its entirety, now might be that time. Exodus is not only filled with great theology but is great story as well. Its opening sentence contains a simple yet ominous phrase, there came a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. In an instant the lives of an entire people are forever changed.

Similarly, the second figure today, St. Benedict, would forever change the church. When I moved to Rome in 1998, the day I arrived, I was told there was a group there in the city headed the next day to Subiaco, and they needed a priest, and I was asked if I would go. Jet lagged I went, and to this day I consider it one of the great honors of my life to have celebrated mass in the cave.

For three years Benedict lived as a hermit in this cave, and it was here that that Holy Spirit planted in him the seeds that would grow up to shape not only the monastic community that he would found, but through "The Rule of St. Benedict", shape western monasticism as a whole. When Benedict first left the city for the area of Subiaco, he was simply looking to get away from the city, he was not on some great religious quest. God has other ideas.

How do we respond to the unexpected, the sudden change for which we are completely unprepared? These are the moments that test how much we truly trust God. Both of the aforementioned events were ultimately used by God to make an historic positive impact on the world, but at the time, neither was so clear. Each took years to come to fruition.

Patient constant trust in God's loving power.