Run While You Have the Light of Life (RB Prol 13)

St. Benedict urges monastics to run on the path of God’s commandments of love (RB Prol 49). Running according to Benedict calls for urgency, immediacy and endurance rather than speed. Along with these qualities, Benedict also urges a steady, persevering and patient pace (Prol 50). He discourages sprinting which results in short-term actions that allow skipping critical processes and life phases.

How does a person run on the spiritual journey? Benedict advocates: by doing good deeds, living the principles and practices of the Sacred Scriptures and the monastic life, and using the “tools of the monastery/good works” (RB 4). I have found these guides to be helpful during my many years of living my Benedictine vocation. Praying the Liturgy of Hours with others has become a habit as necessary as breathing. This prayer keeps me focused on my journey and that of the world community which is parallel to that of the Israelites. At times life has been daunting. Benedict’s urging to call upon God who listens served as a lifeline that has helped me to at least keep sloshing my way through challenging situations (Prol 18).

There have been times when I struggled to make a choice for good. In such instances it has been supportive to lean into Benedict’s urging: “Prefer nothing whatever to Christ …” (RB 72:11). Frequently the asceticism of everyday life, such as boredom in routine, impatience with people, and interruptions into what I’m doing, slowed my steps and I became caught in drudgery and crabbiness. Many times Benedict’s admonition to act with respect, patience and love nudged me along God’s path (RB 72). Often I’ve been invited to open my heart to experiences of delight and resistance, to people and events. Benedict’s words have focused my intention and energy: that we run on the path of God’s commandments with an expanding heart that gives and receives (Prol 49).

I have walked my journey with my monastic sisters, some who at times step in ways similar to my direction and gait, others who zig-zag through the field, some who dawdle without a sense of direction. They embody the journeys of seeking God—with various twists and turns. I try to hang on to Benedict’s conviction, that we will all together come into everlasting life (RB 72:12).

I have come to realize that the basis of my running and my expanding heart needs to be an awareness of God’s love that is expressed daily and faithfully in my daily situations. Then I can respond to love with love. I can run to God and God’s vision for the world while I have the light of life (Prol 13 [Jn 12:35]).

Mary Reuter, OSB

Photo by Philip Ackermann