A New Beginning and Some Help from the Rule of St Benedict

The outcome of the Scottish Independence Referendum marks a beginning as much as an end. We shall now see, I hope, some real thought being given to the Constitution and the way in which the peoples of these Islands, not just Scots, are governed. The danger is that there will be a headlong rush to apply some sort of constitutional sticking-plaster to very real wounds and divisions; but if one thing is clear, it is that there is a huge dissatisfaction with existing party political processes. I use the word ‘party’ advisedly, because the turnout for the Referendum was impressive, showing a degree of engagement that was heartening. Heartening, too, was Alex Salmond’s speech urging acceptance of the result once it was confirmed. We have been reminded that we live in a democracy, and that is no bad thing, for it is democracy that is the real winner — not the ‘Better Together’ campaign. We do not live in a society where we have no choice, even if at times it feels like it.

Later today we shall no doubt be treated to a host of speeches, many of them in Gettysburg mode, urging peace and unity. It may be only an accident, but I find it helpful that the section of the Rule we read today begins with the words ‘Do not give way to anger’ and goes on to advise against nursing grudges, paying back wrongs, grumbling, back-biting and a host of other ills. Instead we are urged to love our enemies and place our hope in God. (RB 4. 22–43) In short, it is a recipe for sanity the day after an experience many will have found searing. However, I think it is more than that. It is a recipe for inner peace, balance and a sense of proportion, but it requires effort on our part. We don’t ‘magic away’ negative feelings or bad experiences. We have to be honest about them and ourselves. Hence the admonitions not to be proud or eat or drink or sleep too much, for without some control over our minds and bodies, we cannot expect to have any control over our emotions or actions.

Today promises to be a challenging day for all of us. It ushers in a period of change, and most change is painful at times. Let us continue to pray, for the Holy Spirit is the only comforter and guide who can reach the depths of every heart.

Note: I am leaving comments on for this post but will switch them off if I find we are receiving too many angry or abusive contributions.

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12 thoughts on “A New Beginning and Some Help from the Rule of St Benedict”

  1. I voted ‘Yes’ and am not angry but very disappointed. Westminster, if not evil, is a very corrupt entity; Supplying arms to aggressors, taking legal aid away from the poor, functioning for the betterment of the rich, making education more difficult for the poor etc etc I feel Jesus would be angry with this behavour. David Cameron claims he is a christian, if he is, I fear for the world.

    • I must say that I can only agree with you, Felicity. I didn’t vote because I did not have a say in this matter, as I live in another country. But I see Scotland as my real homeland, and my vote would always have been a Yes.
      But… things are as they are now, and I sincerely hope the Scottish people will be given everything they have been promised. I hope Cameron remembers that the eyes of the World are now set on him and his government, and that he will be expected to keep his word.

      We will have to wait and see what is going to happen.

  2. Sister, thank you as always for your peaceful insight. Could you point me in the direction of an easy to read layperson guide to the rule of St Benedict and its study. Thanks you and God Bless.

      • May I, as a Benedictine Oblate, endorse this recommendation. I found it very helpful when grappling how the Holy Rule can be applied to someone attempting to ‘live in the world’ whilst holding to Benedictine values.

  3. Today is for sure a new beginning, not only for the UK but for democracy. The turn out excercising their right to vote was outstanding. It is this that is the winner in what has at times been a very fractious campaign. We who are not Scottish should take note and than the folk who voted in this referendum. Next year we have the opportunity to have our say, and have a say we must. I would like to think that what has happened in Scotland marks the start of more engagement with politics. Political issues impact on our daily lives, to the politicians I would say, repeating the essence of Andrew Marr, over 1 million people have said through the ballot box that they are disillusioned with the way things are. Instead of division, anger and reprisals people not only in Scotland but across these islands should be united in seeking a change to governance in the UK.

  4. Thank you Dame Catherine for insight and thoughtfulness amidst a huge amount of Rhetoric on the new channels with politicians to the fore pontificating on what they might do, projecting the unity of Party Leaders, who’ve made promises without he knowledge or support of their back bench MP’s. I’m unsure of how democratic that is?

    But the turn out in Scotland, particularly with the extension of the vote to 16 year olds, demonstrates one way that their can be a recognition that the young are largely disenfranchised under the current political system, now perhaps their needs will be addressed more in tune with their thoughts, hopes and aspirations.

    There are grounds for hope in some of the announcements, but my cynical nature says that once the dust has settled, will the politicians be able to agree and to deliver meaningful change, which meets the aspirations of each constituent part of the UK for their own internal future political and electoral setup and the powers that go along with them.

  5. A sense of having all spoken. We have made up our minds. No hard feelings now. We did the job. We were energised. It was great. A divided family here. Shrug of shoulders and on with life. I think most of us feel that way. We are Scottish. 🙂

  6. Here in the USA, we have two camps so sharply divided that they rarely speak to each other – and even the disgust of the electorate has not found a way to bring them together. It is my hope and prayer that the people of the UK, especially those in Scotland who experienced such an amazing turnout for the election, are able to build something of greater worth than merely remaining in the same house. St. Benedict’s words are surely apt for the day.

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