Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

The Feast of the Passing of Saint Benedict

by Fr. Julian Peters, OSB


Fr. Julian Peters, OSB, gave this homily on March 21, 2013, the feast of the passing of St. Benedict.

Looking at old photos and home movies is a popular activity for family gatherings. There are snickers and giggles about hairstyles, clothes and eyeglasses; comments about how much weight has been lost - or, more frequently,gained; scenes of special events and vacations; little kids being silly; grown adults acting stupid for the camera; seeing family and friends long gone.

"The Way We Were" - preserved for posterity. "How Far We've Come" - prompted by a moment of reflection.

But reminiscing and remembering can be dangerous. To harken back to another time, revisiting the land of the past - no matter how distant it may be - runs the risk of stirring up feelings of embarrassment or regret. Maybe "the way we were" wasn't always so great. And "how far we've come" isn't quite so satisfying.

There's certainly an element of that whenever we gather here to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries….

We begin, not necessarily by reminiscing, but certainly remembering and acknowledging that the way we most recently have been living out our faith, bearing the burdens of our human nature, isn't always where we should be.

And we give ourselves over to something, someone, greater. Grateful at how far God has brought us on the way to salvation, praying God to see us through to where we ultimately want to be.

Today, in a very particular way, we gather as a family, commemorating the passing into glory of our Holy Father Benedict, celebrating his legacy. We are here - monks, oblates, students, alumni and friends - because we have responded, in different times and in different ways, to the voice of the Lord inviting us - giving ourselves over to something greater than our own plans and designs. Following a little Rule for beginners, directing us, with the Gospel as our ultimate guide, to eternal life.

Each one of us with a story, each one of us with memories (the photos and movies of the mind), of special occasions and moments of grace. And yes, of silly, stupid and even sinful things we have done.

We gather to honor him who continues to instruct us in the school of the Lord's service, through a Rule that is neither harsh nor burdensome, encouraging but also challenging, correcting but ever accepting and loving, coaxing (sometimes pulling) us along the steps of humility, reminding us that while we will assuredly die to this life, we will certainly live unto eternity.

Our coming together today poignantly finds us approaching the threshold of the holiest of weeks - when those most solemn rituals will raise our gaze toward Jerusalem, toward the Cross, ready to bask in the light of the Resurrection. With Benedict reminding us that this is what it's all about: preferring nothing to Christ as we immerse ourselves once more in our observance of his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

So today, with the words of Saint Paul, we recall "the way we were": "Think of what you were when you were called…not many were wise, or influential or of noble birth…. Yes, God chose the foolish, the weak and the lowly…."

In this great act of thanksgiving, we rejoice in "how far we've come," acknowledging that we still have a ways to go. Heeding the instruction of the Master - "So let us open our eyes to the light which comes from God and our ears to the voice from heaven…never swerving from His precepts so that we may deserve to see Him who has called us to His Kingdom."

And, never losing hope in God's mercy, we focus anew onwhere we're going, eating and drinking in memory of Him, who lived with us, suffered, died and rose for us.

So that what is not possible to us by nature may be supplied by the help of grace, and we may come all together to everlasting life. 

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.