In his encyclical letter “Laudato si'”, published in 2015, Pope Francis appeals to us to listen to the cry of our common home, planet Earth, and to the cry of the poor. We want to commit ourselves to a life in accord with its fundamental values, which are also passed down to us through our monastic rule, written by St. Benedict in the 6th century.
Here we highlight three central attitudes: (LS = Laudato si | RB = Rule of St. Benedict)
Nature is filled with words of love. An integral ecology includes a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us”.(LS 225) Following the Rule of St. Benedict (chapter 31,10) we are called to be open to the presence of God in all things and to discover the preciousness of everything and every person and creature, when we are invited to look even upon everyday items as though they were the sacred vessels of the altar.
It is imperative to redefine “our notion of progress”(LS 194); we need “a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little, …that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us … and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack”.(LS 222) This attitude of spiritual detachment is seen in St. Benedict’s concern that all should have what they need, at the same time avoiding any superfluous items.(RB 55)
“There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm”.(LS 111) The Benedictine is to prefer “Nothing whatever to Christ”,(RB 72,11) this is the one top value which leaves no room for deified markets or other idols. He/she is called to a renewed purity of heart, trusting in the promise that “as we advance in this way of life and faith, our hearts open wide, and we run with unspeakable sweetness of love on the path of God’s commandments”.(RB Prologue 49)