CWC Journal: Lessons from St. Benedict

Today we’re happy to share a second example of recent exam essays in GES130 Christianity and Western Culture, in which students explained a lesson they thought contemporary Christians could learn from their medieval forebears. This essay comes from Maddie Sumners, a freshman at Bethel who hails from Victoria, MN and graduated from Chanhassen High School.

One important lesson that would help us in the 21st century comes from St. Benedict, an Italian monk who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries. He formed the version of monasticism known as the Benedictine Order, the rules for which are outlined in The Rule of St. Benedict. He calls Christians to live according to a set of rules that are not meant to be burdensome or oppressing, but gently guide them toward holiness. Also included in this version of monasticism is the idea of living one’s life to glorify God through work and study. What humans in the 21st century can really learn from the Benedictine Order, however, is the idea of living in community with other believers.

Maddie Sumners
Maddie’s major is currently undecided, as she is interested in a variety of subject areas, ranging from history to English, math to science. She also loves spending time with her family, friends, and three cats, and is looking forward to the coming years at Bethel and exploring all that it has to offer!

Modern culture is increasingly individualistic, with the rise of the internet and technology, people today rarely feel the need to interact with others. In fact, many people do not even leave their homes to attend church. They simply watch sermons online. This individualistic attitude, however, is in opposition to God’s call for Christians.

God calls Christians to join together as communities of faith, so that each person in the community may grow in their own faith journey throught he process of working through personal struggles with others and helping others through any struggles they may be experiencing. It is this mode of sharing one’s life with others that Benedict modeled so well through building monasteries for monks to live in.

Christians should respond to God’s call and live (metaphorically) as St. Benedict and his followers did. In doing so, Christians will form stronger, healthier relationships with God and others, an invaluable benefit of community. Though Benedict lived centuries ago, his model of faith is one that Christians today can learn much from, and his ideas on community should be applied in the 21st century, so that Christians can grow in their faith and come closer to God.

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