It is not without reason that Benedictine monks have been known for many centuries for their hospitality. St. Benedict dedicates a long section of his Rule to remind the monks that every guest who shows up at the door should be treated like Christ. Their hands and feet should be washed and the Abbot should even break his fast in order to eat with them. The damages of the earthquake notwithstanding, the Monastery of San Benedetto in Monte is blessed to have shared its refectory with many pilgrims, tourists, family members or those simply passing through Norcia.
This past weekend, a group of 20 men from the famous Tipi Loschi company along with their associates spent the weekend helping us with long overdue projects. Their ages ranged from 18 to 70. Some came to vigils at 3:30 AM, all came to prayers throughout the day and to one of the most important parts of our life: Pranzo (our main meal of the day).
Our Holy Father St. Benedict is careful, however, to warn that before a guest is received and the Peace of Christ shared with him, the monks must pray with him, “on account of the devil’s deceptions” (Chapter 53). This cryptic admonition might have referred to the dangers posed to monks by visiting Arian Christians who were an existential threat to the Church of the time due to their false teachings.
The lesson is this: charity without truth is no charity at all. When St. Benedict says that we should prefer nothing to the love of Christ, he also means not to prefer even the flattery of the culture or the pomp of the world, that is, those things that suggest that truth is relative and changeable. Charity of hospitality could never mean, for the great Patron of Europe, that one denies the truth.
Men today who come to Norcia to become monks — and at present 4 have requested to enter this fall — come looking for a world where they can be truly free to love Christ as the Incarnate God, a truth that a modern day version of Arianism once again tries to reject. They come wounded by a society which has tempted them with the idea that either no happiness on this earth is possible at all, or that it is completely possible if one only pursues it by the standards of the world. But when their vocations flourish they find the opposite of both. They find a foretaste of joy here on earth, and then later, in death, that joy complete.
As we enter now into a phase of more vigorous fundraising for construction of our permanent monastery, we ask your support to help us reach our goal of 1 million dollars so that we can raise its walls. We pray that, with your support, men might have a permanent home here where God can be found.
To help us raise the walls, click here.
Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.