Despite the enormous activism that marks these first decades of the twenty-first century, it’s quite possible to live an active life that’s really rather passive—a life in which I’m simply floating along in the flotsam of the mass insanity of our unruled, unexamined lives. I can be active but unaware of the essence of life, productive but unconscious of God. I can have a bunch of friends and a lot of things that demand my attention, while I live essentially disconnected from others. I can own a mountain of money, move it around to make more money, even give it away to help a mountain of humanity, but that doesn’t mean I know what love is or am even moved by genuine love.

A millennium and a half ago, Benedict fled all this. Awakened from the great Roman dream, he saw clearly his own unconscious and passive loyalty to an unruly, loveless life.

His Rule was the reverse of repression, the opposite of inhibition.

It meant freedom from the mass illusion and collective insanity of his age. It gave him a firm foothold and a sturdy walking stick so that he could wade chest deep in the Tiber’s turbid waters without losing his mind or forfeiting his soul.

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AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman