Friday, February 1, 2013

Sarabaites and Gyrovagues


 The Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia  is a book of precepts, holy rules of obligation and practice, written in the mid-5th Century and widely adopted even today by convents and monastic communities throughout the world.  In it, St. Benedict outlined a way of life that addressed the needs of monks living in closed community.  One of these needs was theosis, a divine transformation.  Saint Benedict believed that in order to obtain theosis one had to live a life of peace, prayer, and work.  Essential to this way of life  was moderation in the use of words and extended periods of silence.  

 Practitioners of many faiths, Buddhists and Catholic most notably among them, have long taken vows of silence.  These vows are taken because it is believed that silence clears the mind and body from the distractions of worldly things and allows us to to clear the smoke that that prevents us from seeing the nature of the world. It was also believed that silence would keep the peace within the Abbey walls, that speaking little would prevent discord and and dispute among the devotees.

There is something to be said for holding ones tongue. Do not we all, actually, live in close community?  Do we not share the same basic needs and face the same struggles as anyone else? Do we not all strive for a sense of the divine in our lives?  Saint Benedict began his precepts with a description of the types of monks; Cenobites, those living in a monastery; Anchorites, the hermits; Sarabaites, those living in small family groups of two to four living under their own rules of law; and Gyrovagues, the wanderers, living at the will of their own impulses and desires.  I suggest that we are all Sarabaites and Gyrovagues.  All monks, trying to keep the peace, and it may do us some great degree of good to be careful what we say and to embrace more fully the silence in our lives.

Listen to the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos:

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