As fall settles in, we are coming to terms with dealing with the coronavirus without the consolation of pleasant weather and familiar routines. Characterized by pandemic, economic disruption, social unrest and even murder hornets, it’s no overstatement to describe this year as stormy.
Despite all this, life must go on and we must provide our families with stability and calm.
The good news is we aren’t the first to deal with this problem. The war, poverty and chaos following the disintegration of the Roman Empire made the fifth century even rougher. St. Benedict and the monastic life he fostered responded to the situation with constructive practices that we can adapt today so our homes can offer islands of sanity in a seemingly chaotic world.
The Rule of St. Benedict provided monastics with very clear expectations so everyone knew what to expect from one another. To create new routines for our family, take the time to meet together over a nice meal and talk about how you will live together during this strange time. Go ahead and post signs as ways to remind people what will happen when and where. Then, use positive reinforcement. The Rule of St. Benedict tells abbots to be consistent, encouraging and gentle.
Prayer defines the day-to-day life of the Benedictines with the seven prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. With a simple prayer before starting school or work in the morning, grace at meals with intercessions and a bedtime prayer, families can do something similar.
Work is good for the soul. Benedictine spirituality embraces work as a way to participate in God’s ongoing work of creation. Chores and studying, done in the right spirit, help the family and can be a way to grow closer to God.
Custody of the senses means that Benedictines are intentional about what they listen to, read and watch. We need to be careful about this too, supervising and guiding the what, where and when of our media consumption.
Care for the body is part of caring for the soul, so monasteries gather for healthy and satisfying meals at the same time each day. This healthy routine is important for families too. So is a routine of regular exercise, even if it has to happen at home.
Keeping the Lord’s day not only means taking time to participate in Mass (in person or livestreamed as we are able), it means making Sunday a day we look forward to with time for rest, silence, celebration with family, and giving thanks for what we have.
Hospitality, or welcoming the guest as Christ, helps to make monasteries open and welcoming places. Even though COVID limits our social activity, we can apply this principle by treating those familiar to us as we would Jesus.
Northwest Catholic - October 2020
Deacon Eric Paige is the Archdiocese of Seattle's executive director for evangelization, formation and discipleship. Contact him at email@example.com.
El Diácono Eric Paige es el Director para el Matrimonio, la Vida familiar y Formación en la Arquidiócesis de Seattle. Pueden contactarle en: firstname.lastname@example.org.