St Benedict Patron Saint of Europe

Today is St Benedict day, and St Benedict is the patron saint of Europe. With Europe dealing with financial and political problem right now I thought it worth taking a look at St Benedict's life and life and how the patron saint of Europe might help us today.

Europe in Benedict's life was full of trouble, much more than we have today. Rome had fallen a few decades before and war and barbarian raids were common. There was 30 years of peace under Theodoric of the Ostrogoths, but after his death war returned. Christianity was also under threat from pagan traditions and Benedict after going to school in Rome left to live a solitary life in a cave.

Benedict was a holy man and other men came to him seeking his wisdom and leadership. Over time he founded monasteries and wrote The Rule of St Benedict. The rule, a work for beginners, as he calls it, teaches those wanting to live a Christian and monastic life what is required of them. The rule is still practised by many today, both in monastic life and by people leading holy lives in the secular world.

Benedict's rule teaches how to live together. It would be interesting if the countries in Europe could employ similar rules for help with Europe current issues. Early on in the Rule Benedict describes the tools for Good Works. He starts with the ten commandments: Love God. Love you neighbour. You are not to kill, commit adultery, steal, covert or lie. You should honour everyone and never do to another what you do not want done to yourself. Our Countries, leaders, governments and us as citisens could all do well to try and live up to the commands.

Benedict goes on, renounce yourself, discipline your body, do not pamper yourself, love fasting, relieve the lot of the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead. Go help the troubled and console the sorrowing. Think how the current difficulties could be quickly solved if we challenged our governments to think of the other countries first, to be disciplined with what we have and use less. If we used less energy, less food, we could give more and help the hungry on the streets of towns across Europe. If we actually thought of the troubles of other countries rather than what those troubles might mean for us.

Benedict would tell us not to grumble, not to be lazy, not to speak ill of others, to endure persecution for the sake of justice, not to be proud or arrogant, never hate or be jealous and if we have a dispute with someone the to make peace before sunset. What difference would we make to Europe today if we asked our leaders not to blame other countries, not to be proud and arrogant over our achievements, not to want what other countries have, and when we disagree to make peace quickly.

Benedict’s' rule was for his community, but could we learn something today for our European community. We should never lose hope in God's mercy and maybe today we should prayer for the intersession of St Benedict the Patron Saint of Europe for God's help in solving the crisis effecting our countries and banks.

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