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Benedictine time management: 'a full agenda but never busy'

By Evelyn Piety
8/7/2003
[Triennial Today] 

In her Episcopal Church Women workshop, "Beyond the Monastery: The Rule of St. Benedict for Everyday Living," the Rev. Canon Sandra Holmberg assisted participants to understand how the Rule can be relevant to their nonmonastic lives in the 21st century.

Benedict, who was born about 480 and died in 550, lived his entire life within 80 miles of Rome. For a time, he lived in a cave near a town east of Rome. He spent his time in prayer and in reading scripture. He saw his Rule as a school for God’s service and frequently quotes the Bible in it. The Rule contains “timeless truth,” Holmberg said.

The Rule encompasses three vows: stability, fidelity and obedience.

Stability must be in relation to God, Holmberg pointed out, because God is the only eternal rock on which we stand.

The vow of fidelity allows God to transform our lives. Following God’s plan for us may involve change, or it may mean to do what God calls us to do where we are.

God wants always what is best for us, and obedience is “not about getting your arm twisted and doing stupid stuff,” Holmberg said. It is a matter of listening to God and following God’s call. Various groups we may be a part of are important in our listening to God and enable us to hear God more deeply.

Balance and humility assist us in living up to Benedict’s vows. His rhythm for a wholesome life involves a balance of prayer, study, work and rest. Benedictine time management is having “a full agenda but never busy.” Humility means being honest with ourselves, with God and with each other. We must strive to know ourselves as God knows us, frequently a lifelong process.

Holmberg pointed out that wisdom and guidance are offered by the Rule, which advises moderation. The point of the Rule is to get to the “inexpressible delight of love.”