A Facebook friend alerted me to another amazing BBC production, The Monastery, which follows the day-by-day experience of six lay men who become part of a Benedictine monastery for 40 days. None of the men are Catholic; some don’t believe in God at all. It is an experiment for all of them, an opportunity to see if monastic life can change their minds about God, about themselves, about their secular lives.
The series is up on YouTube and is available in 18 10-minute segments. It’s perfect viewing for a little meditative break from the usual computer stuff every once in a while, although I will admit that I became addicted and watched one segment after another until I was done. Took me just a couple of days. If you do decide to give it a try, see it through to the end because the transformation you witness will inspire you. The power and relevance of monastic life and Benedictine Rule in particular and prayer and silence in general is palpable in every episode.
For me, I really came away with a renewed appreciation for my own vocation and state in life, much the way I did after seeing Into Great Silence about the Carthusian monks a few years back. It made me want to pull out my books on living the Benedictine Rule at home and rethink how we can apply it to family life. When we think of monks and community, we tend to think — at least I do — of something apart from our own busy home lives. But the reality is that our families are our communities and our homes are our monasteries, and we can incorporate many good and life-affirming aspects of the Rule into our lives in ways that will strengthen our families and advance our spiritual journeys.
Above all, the emphasis of The Monastery was on silence — listening, as St. Benedict wrote, “with the ear of your heart.” Or maybe that’s just what spoke to me because I know in my heart of hearts that until I make a silent space for God in my life each day I can’t move forward. Why is it so hard to do that? Surely I can find five minutes of silence for God. I’m going to begin that challenge today and let you know how things progress. Stay tuned…