In the early 6th century, Western Europe was in chaos. The Roman Empire had fallen, and the structure and order that marked the Roman world had crumbled. Within that chaotic time, St. Benedict wrote a little book of precepts and rules to govern the life of his monastery in the hills above Monte Cassino in southern Italy. By the 9th century, nearly all Christian monasteries lived under the Rule of St. Benedict. This little book provided the structure and discipline that the Benedictine monks needed to begin the work of revitalizing the spiritual and economic order of Western Europe. But, what might the Rule of St. Benedict offer us today?
Zygmaut Bauman, eminent Polish philosopher and sociologist, describes our age as one of “liquid modernity.” Like 6th century Europe, the institutions and belief structures that have been so central to the lives of the citizens of the West have been crumbling and seem to be unable to hold. College might also be described as an especially “liquid time.” We move away from our homes and begin to learn and be exposed to theories and lifestyles that challenge our most core beliefs. Like the monks of Monte Cassino, the Rule of St. Benedict may provide college students with a way to create little monasteries in their dorms and in their hearts. These monasteries might serve as ordered spaces in which students can grow spiritually, developing a foundation from which they can keep their head above the waves of a liquid age. In this PGH CS seminar, we will host six weekly meetings to read and discuss sections of the Rule of St Benedict and think about practical ways to apply the Rule of St. Benedict to our everyday lives. There will be no prep work; all reading will be done during the seminar.