The Benedictine monk vows stability, and this means he will stay in one place. He’s not on the move like a friar or a missionary. He can’t be whisked here and there like a diocesan priest. He stays put. That’s why a Benedictine, when asked will not just say, “I’m a Benedictine monk.” but “I’m a monk of Douai” or Downside or St Vincent’s or Solesmes or Quarr or whatever his monastic house happens to be. That’s where he has vowed stability. That’s where God has planted him. That’s where he will either bloom or wither and die.
We lay people don’t take vows of stability as such, but we take other vows that have the demand for stability written into them, and the monk’s vow of stability reminds us that stability is required in our lives too if we are to make any kind of spiritual progress. If we’re married we’ve got a vow of stability. We don’t have to stay in the same three bedroomed rancher in the suburbs for life, but we do have to remain committed to that same wife or husband, those in laws, the same gang of children, nieces and nephews and parents. Families demand stability. Stability is written into our baptism too. As Catholic Christians we’re committed to the Church built on the Rock. We’re not allowed to go scooting around church shopping. We should be committed to our parish too, for better or for worse.
Benedict writes about a certain sort of monk called a ‘gyrovague’. The words sounds like a cross between a gyroscope and a vagrant, and that about sums it up. A ‘gyrovague’ is a restless monk who goes from one monastery to another always looking for what pleases him. Benedict says the gyrovague’s god is his stomach. He’s an immature, restless pleasure seeking sort of person. Benedict condemns him. How often are we just the same church-wise? We run to this parish because the preacher is better or they have a better youth minister or we like the music better or they do the liturgy the way we like it. Church shoppers are like channel hoppers: never satisfied and always bored and always complaining.
Abba Stabilitas says, “Stay put. Don’t be running all over the place looking for happiness. You’re looking for the wrong thing anyway. Look for God. Look for him just where you are at this time, in this place, with these people, and with yourself. If you can’t find him here, you won’t find him anywhere, and if you think you have found him elsewhere, you haven’t. It’s an illusion. It’s a god of your own making, and do you know what a god of your own making is? An idol.