Reflection Feb. 10, 2020
I know a heart surgeon whose twin brother is a brain surgeon. When people discover this, it is always cause for conversation and usually amazement.
I know of a woman, reputed for superior spiritual wisdom, who may have founded an abbey for nuns ‘way back in the sixth century whose twin brother founded many abbeys for monks. However, at least in recent times, to discover this doesn’t provoke a whole lot of popular discussion or amazement. Instead, those reactions, for well over a millennium now, have centered on Benedict the twin (who knew?) brother, who is now recognized as the great author of a profound monastic Rule, and so, a kind of founder of traditional monasticism. Even today, that Rule offers insight in our search for ecological consciousness and, poignantly, in response to outbreaks of cultural barbarism. Today, though, we remember his sister, Scholastica.
The readings of today’s liturgy focus on the phenomenon of religious attraction. In the Book of Kings we read how people flocked to King Solomon who turned their attention to the Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets delivered to Moses; giving Solomon great satisfaction as the builder of the “House” for the Divine presence among the people.
In Mark’s Gospel, people flock to Jesus even in his attempt to find solitude, recognizing a living Divine presence in their midst.
Contemporary religious life, for all its inspiration from Benedict and other great founders of religious communities that followed, no longer finds crowds of people flocking. Yet the Divine presence, as promised, remains with us forever, inside and outside monastic abbeys. We stand in need of the kind of determination shown by the crowds in the Gospel, to discover where Jesus has docked his boat, as it were. Perhaps it will re-cast the religious insights of Benedict, or, maybe, re-discover the spiritual originality of his twin sister. In our time, as we progress along the path of increasing respect for women’s voices, we have another reason for cherishing the memorial of St. Scholastica.
Stephen Dunn cp