On April 20 I had the privilege of speaking to the Southeast Regional Conference of the Community of Hope International, an ecumenical organization of Christians whose mission is “to create and sustain Christian communities of volunteer lay pastoral caregivers around the world.” Their mission statement goes on to say, “We are united in prayer, shaped by Benedictine spirituality and equipped for and serving in pastoral care ministries.” I was invited to speak on the Benedictine tradition and how it has shaped my own life as a layperson, and how it might be of benefit to others as well, especially those engaged in lay ministry.
Community of Hope members serve as lay chaplains and lay pastoral caregivers in a variety of settings, including assisted living and nursing homes, hospice centers, homeless shelters, and anywhere else where people are in need of care and support. It’s a wonderful ministry, and the engine that drives it is Benedictine spirituality as adapted for laypersons outside of the traditional cloister.
This is the kind of thing that I think Lay Cistercians, Benedictine Oblates, Third Order Franciscans, Lay Carmelites, and other similar lay/secular organizations need to pay close attention to. It’s one thing for us to study the Rule of St. Benedict and other documents of the contemplative tradition and use those resources to deepen our personal spirituality. That’s fine and good, but I think there’s a higher calling here: a calling to ministry and service. Community of Hope is leading the way of integrating the riches of the contemplative tradition with the demands of lay ministry in our time.
You can hear a recording of the talk I gave on Benedictine Spirituality, as well as some of the other talks given at the conference, by following this link: