About the St Benedict’s Wisdom in the Modern World course
The Rule of St Benedict addresses the shortcomings of the modern world through a healthy spirituality that gives the right attention to body and interrelations. In this short course we will explore the ways in which the Rule of St Benedict might be applied today and what we can learn from this ancient rule of life that prioritises ‘healthy’ spirituality.
The modern world is characterised by disembodiment and abstraction, which in turn influence the ways we understand ourselves. Understood properly, the Rule of St Benedict addresses the shortcomings of the modern world through a spirituality that can be captured by the epithet ‘healthy’, in the sense of ‘respecting and promoting the human flourishing of the whole person’.
Many modern readers are nonplussed by the extent to which a spiritual text like the Rule is far more concerned with the body than with inner life. Indeed, Benedict spends most of his time talking about eating, sleeping, working, reading, talking, smiling, and especially about toiling in community life. And yet all these factors are deeply ‘spiritual’ in Benedict’s mind. For him, the healthiest way of seeking God is through community life because he knows that there is no way to flourish, other than through interaction with our environment and others, and no relation with God other than through the mediations of body, fellowship, history, and Scripture.
Fr Luigi Gioia was a Benedictine Monk for 25 years in Italy and France and is now Assistant Priest and Head of Formation at the Anglican Parish of St Paul Knightsbridge in London. He was a professor of systematic theology at the Pontifical University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome for many years and now is a research associate at the Von Hügel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry at Cambridge University (UK). A retreat leader in several countries, he is the author of several books of spirituality, including Say It to God: In Search of Prayer (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2018), Touched by God: The Way to Contemplative Prayer (2018) and The Wisdom of St Benedict. Monastic Spirituality and the Life of the Church (2020)