I have just returned from a pilgrimage in Rome visiting the sites associated with St.Benedict. It has been an exciting, deeply spiritual and tiring time. It was also for me the fulfilment of almost 40 years of wanting to visit Subiaco and Monte Cassino. I first encountered the Benedictines at Alton in Hampshire when I was 10. As part of my confirmation classes my priest took me to the community and I became fascinated by monastic life from there on in. I have been an oblate for over 25 years and a member of the Emmaus Community of St.Benedict for the past two years. So this pilgrimage has in many ways been a longtime coming for me but on reflection it came at the right time.
One of the most amazing experiences was entering the chapel built into the cave that Benedict retreated to from Rome at Subiaco. He lived in that cave for three years and became recognised as a man of prayer in that time - amazing for a man of 15! Benedict's experiences eventually lead him to write 'The Rule' for monastics which shaped not only the church in Europe but Europe itself. We all too often forget how closely our culture is bound up with our faith.
I am still processing my experiences and no doubt the good folk at the Good Shepherd Murrayfield will hear much more about what I have come to understand and see.
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