The Ordinariness of Life

The terrible events of the last few days have brought home to everyone in the West how fragile life is and how easily hopes and plans for the future can be dashed. Yet here in the monastery we continue to read through the Rule of St Benedict in the accustomed way. While others are talking in apocalyptic terms about the way in which the world has changed for ever, we ruminate upon reading in the refectory, what we are to eat and drink and the times of meals. It is all very humdrum, all very ordinary. That is the point. Human life is ordinary, and we become holy through our very ordinariness. Fidelity to the small tasks of every day, rather than grand, heroic gestures, is, for most of us, the vocation to which we are called. Whether we live it out in community, as monks and nuns, as members of a family or as single people, the same qualities are required, though the way in which we respond will vary according to age and circumstances. As St Benedict reminds us in today’s chapter (RB40, On the Measure of Drink), we may have to put up with much that is unsatisfactory or not to our liking, but if we can learn to bless God, rather than grumble, we shall triumph over every obstacle.  We shall have learned, in fact, how to make something extarordinary out of the ordinariness of life.

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