“Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labour at certain times, at others, in devout reading.” Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict.
You might wonder why I am writing this as Julia and I usually take it in turns. Well, she ran out of time and has gone to the Diocesan Conference in Derbyshire. One of the topics of the conference is spirituality, living life in response to Jesus Christ. This includes every dimension of our lives: individually, within our communities, and in the wider world. Our response means sharing God’s life in all aspects of our lives. The core of the discussion will be around how to formulate a ‘Rule of life’. Winchester Diocese was founded by the Roman mission to Wessex, led by St Birinus, part of the outreach of the Benedictine movement across Europe. Through its Rule of Life and its Christian communities, this movement shaped the culture of the continent. Benedictine spirituality, encapsulated in the Benedictine Rule, presents a simple perspective which has influenced the whole shape of Western Christian spirituality. ‘Sharing God’s Life’, offered as a way of interpreting this tradition for today, is designed as the foundation for everything that the Diocese is committed to and as an expression of our values and purpose as Christians. A Rule of Life provides a framework in three dimensions of Sharing God’s Life: personal (Loving), interpersonal (Living) and public (Serving). Each of us is invited to make our own response to this three-fold invitation. A Rule of Life is a way of putting our relationship with God into practice. It isn’t about ‘keeping rules’; it is about discovering how we can grow as disciples in the rhythms and relationships that make up our everyday lives. Instead of just letting life happen, we can choose to live for God in every area of our lives. We can stop and listen to his invitation to receive and respond to his love in Christ, creating a Rule of Life that will support us in living out our own particular calling.
So how do we do that in a practical way? For each heading, we are asked to think about what we are already doing and then think about what else we could do. Then think about one or two goals that we will commit to in the coming year. Our Rule of Life will be personally tailored to ourselves but here’s some ideas to give examples of the kind of things we might consider having as goals for the coming year.
Loving God: Use ‘Reflections for Daily Prayer’ each day; spend 5 minutes in silence with God every weekday evening.
Loving others: Phone my sister/ brother at least once a fortnight; initiate a social meeting with a friend at least once a month.
Living a generous life: Giving my time, experience, gifts and talents to serve God in the community. Use my gift of hospitality to host a meal for those who live alone; offer my skill advising those with financial needs.
Serving and stewarding the world God has given us. Write to the editor about the environmental issues raised in my local newspaper; organize a village litter-pick
Having thought of a number of things which we could focus on, then we are invited to decide which two things we will commit to do this year in each of the three sections. Food for thought?