19 Jan St Benedict and the Week of Prayer For Christian Unity
Each day in the monastery we read a portion from the Rule of St. Benedict, such that we work our way through the Rule 3 times a year. Here at Mucknell we currently read the portion for the next day before Vespers. Yesterday, Abbot Thomas shared some reflections on how the portion we were reading, from Chapter 4, Tools for Good Works, might speak to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that we along with Christians across the world are currently observing.
Benedict says, “never pretend to be at peace with another when you are not.” This can perhaps be taken as a sign of how far ecumenical relations have come; such work has gone beyond vague platitudes and a pretended sameness. Christians from different denominations are not afraid to examine and discuss the differences between them, to the benefit of all.
Benedict then goes on say: “nor turn away when someone needs your love”. This can be read as an injunction both to love one another as fellow Christians, but also to act together in love for all those around us, rather than see our work splintering into denominational projects; we can very often become more than the sum of our parts by working together.
Benedict’s instruction “do not grumble or speak ill of others” more or less speaks for itself; remember that here Benedict is writing for a Christian community, and we know to our cost that gossip, slander and speaking ill can be as prevalent within the church as without. If this were not reality, Benedict would not have needed an instruction against it!
Immediately following this, Benedict says, “put your hope in God alone,” a reminder to us all that the unity of the church will only be achieved as we put our hope in God, and trust in God alone to bring about a peace and a unity that the world cannot give.
For more on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, resources from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland can be found here: CBTI Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022.