"Of Gods and Men" and John Corapi

The remarkable film Of Gods and Men is out on Netflix, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to put it on your queue and move it to the top. It is one of the best films I seen in years — gripping, moving, enlightening and insightful. I can’t think of a film in recent memory that so truly and respectfully portrays the life of faith, the religious life, and most especially the value, use and meaning of liturgical prayer and the sacramental, Holy Mass — how these enhance the life of faith, deepens its roots so that it may withstand the storms that come.

If it begins a little slow for some, especially in our age of shoot-em-ups, stick with it. This is lovely, simple, lyrical and true:

First of all, it is a realistic portrayal of the life of faith. The monks are not perfect; no saint, or martyr, is. Holiness always makes its home in humanity. Occasionally the monks are impatient, tetchy, or short with one another. (“He’s tired,” says an older monk after a younger one has spoken to him sharply while cleaning up after a meal.) One of them thinks wistfully of the life that he might have had “on the outside.” Moreover, the group struggles mightily with the idea that they might be “called” to be martyrs, indeed resisting it until almost the last minute. As anyone would. The life of the believer often involves uncertainty, doubt, and confusion. Two of them are seen, quite distinctly, as “avoiding” their fate. But all try to grapple with what God seems to be asking of them, strange and frightening as it may seem to them.

Second, the movie does not stint—at all—on the religious underpinnings of their actions and choices. Too often in contemporary cinema, producers or directors indicate by their own choices that audiences will not understand people who talk about God in a serious way. And so we see (and hear) the monks chanting their prayers, celebrating Mass, preparing for Christmas. In this way the movie was reminiscent of another recent film on the monastic life, the documentary Into Great Silence. We hear the words of their prayers, too; and we are privy to their conversations with one another about God, and often with God. God is real to them; and God’s effect on their lives is made real to the viewer.

You’ll want to read that whole review, and I agree that the “last supper” scene was spine-tingling and moving in a remarkable way, but the whole film is full of moments of almost sublime sweetness intermingled with moments of terror, hopelessness, fear, doubt, and pleading prayer – “help me, help me, oh, help me.”

The director makes his points without hammering us over the head — when the Abbot, Brother Christian, is simply walking through the fields, along with sheep, you understand what he is thinking, and why he cannot leave to save himself. When he is marveling at the circumference of a tree that must be thousands of years old, you understand that he is thinking that it has been there long before he existed, will be there long after he has died. Its roots are deep. And Jesus hung upon such wood.

A scene I found almost unspeakably beautiful involved Vespers. Knowing that at any moment their humble monastery may be invaded by murderous extremists, the brothers hear a chopper come near. Perhaps this is the moment of their martyrdom, and while they by no means seek death, they cannot be anything but who and what they are: monks. As per the Rule of St. Benedict (which Trappists follow) “nothing is to be preferred to the Divine Office,” and so they draw together in their very humble choir, facing the stained glass window outside of which the menacing chopper hovers, and they put their arms about each other’s shoulders — true brothers — and sing all the louder, in beautiful harmony, in defiance, and in joy.

The “last supper” scene truly is astonishing. A confrontation with mystery. Understanding that this may be their last meal together — that they have made an irrevocable decision that will likely mean their deaths — they fill their glasses with the best wine, and instead of a reading, they listen to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. As the music plays, they share a wordless conversation about love. Here is Love; they are confronting its depths and it sacrifice, it’s ache and confusion and its powerful relation to Truth. The Gospel notes are there: that they have saved the best wine for last speaks to the beginning of Christ’s ministry, and Mary’s words, “do whatever he tells you,” a scene which launched the world’s exposure to Jesus of Nazareth and speaks to the truth that to know him and follow him involves continual rediscoveries that hone new depths. We see that all of their pursuit of Christ has brought them to this self-knowing surrender to Providence. Watching this scene, the beginning of Psalm 133 came to me:

How good and how pleasant it is,
when brothers live in unity!
It is like precious oil upon the head
running down upon the beard,

Christ is all over this moment. Later, when the monks are taken prisoner, and the oldest has managed to evade capture, his silent grief at not being with his brothers, not surrendering that final bit of himself, is so sad and affecting, and yet ultimately this film is about freedom and victory.

The monks, living and dying in Christ, were true victors. I love the conversation between Brother Christian and Brother Luc, where they discuss their decisions to remain at the monastery: “to leave is to die,” Luc had said earlier. Now he ponders all he has seen in his life, including Nazi’s, and acknolwedges that he is not afraid of death — that his freedom has always been Christ-centered. As the bell rings, calling them to prayer, they prepare to exit the small office, and Luc jokes to Christian, “let the free man go through.”

It is a lovely moment, and when I watched it I could not help but think of the video I had watched a few hours previous, and which I found alternately ridiculous and profoundly sad.

“Let the free man go through,” said the martyred monk, Brother Luc. When he said it, with a wry grin, he seemed to me to be much more free than John Corapi, and when I said my prayers before sleep, I thanked God for his martyrs, but the bulk of my prayers were for Corapi, who seems to be in terrible trouble. As I texted to my Li’l Bro Thom, “He never looks directly at the camera, and when he looked away at the video’s end, all I saw was self loathing and imprisonment. I am watching Of God’s and Men right now, and those trapped martyrs were more free than that poor soul. It’s too sad.”

Thom’s response touched on what he understands of addictive personalities and compulsive disorders — all of it very enlightening, of course, but my head was swimming with images from the film and I couldn’t help thinking that Corapi’s desire to live a life without confreres, without accountability, without hearing, “no” once in a while or having to confer with a community rather than calling all of his own shots — and with the sacramental life of his priesthood taking a backseat to the preaching — I don’t think it served him well. I don’t think he was ever as free as these stable, committed monks, and frankly, I felt heartbroken for him.

Let us give thanks to God for the witness of his martyrs, who demonstrate to us so clearly that a life of simplicity, stability, prayer and togetherness — all rooted in the love of Jesus Christ, who is the All-in-All — brings forth the depth of reality that is within the mystery, and reveals God to us in myriad ways as we learn what it is to be free.

And let us sincerely pray for John Corapi, who truly seems imprisoned by that rather creepy-eyed creature at the base of his video, and who needs to find that freedom.

More on Of Gods and Men, and Stablity at Sister Laurel’s page

Also, I think I now must get to know these monks better, through this book

In his homily for this week
, Deacon Greg finds stability in the seed-sowing parable

It happens again and again in our history – from St. Paul to St. Augustine to St. Ignatius to Dorothy Day and beyond. The soil they sprang from wasn’t always ideal. We are a church of rocks, and thorns, besieged by birds – and yet, amid this vast and surprising garden, God’s smallest seeds find fertile ground. His Word takes root.

Which brings me to one other significant point in this parable. It bears remembering.
In this story, the sower doesn’t change. The seed doesn’t change.
What changes is the soil.
What changes are the conditions that allow the seed to be planted.
What changes is the environment that lets the seed bear fruit.
What changes, in fact…is us.

And we may never know where, or how, it will happen.

Christ does not change, but we do. God is not finished with any of us, yet.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • RB2

    Our Lady of Good Success, Quito Ecuador

    The fourth reason the lamp was put out was to demonstrate how the Masons and other secret sects would have so much influence on society and even within the Church. “During these unfortunate times,” she foretold, “evil will invade childhood innocence. In this way, vocations to the priesthood will be lost, resulting in a true calamity.” Our Lady of Good Success foresaw that there would still be some good, faithful religious who would be willing to suffer for the salvation of souls and life of the Holy Catholic Church. However, “The clergy will leave much to be desired because priests will become careless in their sacred duties. Lacking the divine compass, they will stray from the road traced by God for the priestly ministry, and they will become attached to wealth and riches, which they will unduly strive to attain. How the Church will suffer during this dark night! Lacking a prelate and a father to guide them, many priests will lose their spirit, placing their souls in great danger.”

    Sound like anyone we know?

  • http://mybattlementsofrubies.blogspot.com/ Clare

    A beautiful review thank you!
    It is probably one of the most memorable films I have ever watched.
    It seeps into you wordlessly.

    As for Fr Corapi, his video was jaw droppingly memorable too, in an altogether different and ghastly way.
    Never,in a million years did I imagine it would be this bad.
    It is truly, surreally awful.
    I wonder did he ever believe in God?
    I feel we are seeing something diabolical manifesting.

  • Tom T

    Thank you Elizabeth, beautiful review. Being an oblate and deep into monasticism and monastic
    history I can relate to a lot of the points that moved you. I read the story of those monks. Some of them
    wen`t through immence torture. As for Corapi, your right, we have to pray for him but not only him for
    some of his ardent followers who got wrapped up
    in the messenger instead of the message. My humble
    view is that being the savoy business person he claims to be he pulled a Donald Trump on us when he said he was going to run for president. Publicity
    sells things. Anyway I think we should close the book on Corapi and let the Church deal with the fallout. It
    is all very sad and destructive and not helpful to the
    Spirit or the Church. There is another media sensation who likes to, do things his way. Cutie the
    Catholic Priest who got married and left the Church
    to become an Episcopal Priest. He has his own tv.
    show. I beieve all this kind of action is what brought
    St. Benedict to Subiaco and then Monte Casino which
    by the way I wish you a very Blessed and Holy Feastday of St. Benedict on July 11. Pax, Prayers and

  • Marty

    Disagree with you about the oldest monk who “has managed to evade capture” and “his silent grief at not being with his brothers, not surrendering that final bit of himself…”

    An obvious way out was open to him, and he took it, as the others would have – as, in fact, they had been doing all through the movie, consistently trying to evade a fatal confrontation.

    Kind of like Poulenc’s “Dialogue of the Carmelites,” really.

    So he was left as the witness.

    [He still clearly missed being with his brothers -admin]

  • sosan

    This is beautiful, Elizabeth. And reading, “help me, help me, oh, help me.” almost makes me want to cry. I read about the movie some time ago but you have helped me come to a decision at last! This will be one of our next movies to rent, for sure, unless it’s shown on ppv. Thank you.

  • Mer

    I saw Corapi’s video on his new site and all I can say is Ugh. What is with the Aleister Crowley look that he has going on? The goatee is even larger and apparently his new persona is that of a biker. Sigh….

    When he first started his ministry he had a very kind look about him and didn’t mind dressing like a monk. He had a very sweet and humble persona as well. I don’t like the new persona one bit.

    He may still be able to preach(maybe- who knows), but if he isn’t willing to live it, than don’t bother trying to teach it. I would have had a lot more respect him if he would have just came clean about everything and asked for God’s mercy. I just cannot fathom this all! Maybe the money made him nuts.

    I do think that the S.O.L.T. should have never let him live on his own or would have at least sent a Brother or Brother’s to live with him to at least keep his feet on the ground. I’m am not going to lay the blame at their feet, however, they do have some culpability in this. They should have tried to reach out to him much much sooner. Maybe they did and I don’t know that who know anymore! But to allow him to build this empire of his unchecked was a big mistake!

    That aside, he is a grown man and ultimately responsible for his own fate! I just don’t know how you could have so much knowledge at your disposal and choose to ignore it! God truly did give him a gift. He chose to take that gift and throw it up against a wall and just shatter it to pieces! He has made this about him and that truly saddens me. Everything should be God centered and that includes everything that we choose to do with our lives! He has lost that and I could just cry.

    Anyway, I’ll shut up now and I will try my best not to think about this so much! I can’t help it, it just hurts too much!

  • Mel

    Beautiful. I must see.

    Tragically, what Fr. Corapi seems most addicted to is himself.
    He needs our prayers.

  • Emily

    The look on his face and in his eyes in those last few seconds are more telling than any word he speaks in that video. Regardless of all that has been spoken about this in the blogosphere, this man is greatly in need of our prayers.

  • Mer

    I have to agree with you guys, he does need our prayers.

    I don’t know what to feel anymore. I go from being angry and disappointed, to feeling really bad for him.

    I am so conflicted. Either way, he has my prayers. I will say a Rosary for him tonight.

  • John David

    John Corapi generally did not look into the camera when he spoke, he, often, looked to his left, so his not looking into the camera is not that unusual. Yet, I will say that I, too, was struck by his very lonely, lost downward gaze at the end of the clip. I wondered why it was not cut, why the camera lingered and showed, despite all the posturing that came before this end, what seemed to be, a broken man.

  • James

    Emily, I noted the same thing on the last Corapi thread. His expression in the last few seconds of that video says it all. He looks lost and broken. It looked like he knows he’s living a lie and that he can’t find a way out. It was truly heartbreaking. He needs our prayers.

    Come back home, John. Please.

  • mts1

    I’m just stuck with the “how.” How can someone who said his life was saved from the gutter for a higher and better purpose that culminated in being ordained in Rome by the Pope Himself, who left seminary for lack of money until a benefactor came through, who changed from the Franciscans to SOLT over his concern for what he considered improper treatment of the Eucharist (which is why the SOLT charges that one of his faults was improper use of sacraments floored me), how can he feel like it’s all a long strange trip, that the past 10 years stunk?

    How does one go from being a Lion of the Faith and knowing one has given wind under the wings of so many Catholics who are starved for a new voice that preached solid doctrine and unembarrassed Catholicism just chuck it and throw on a pathetic Harley jacket? I *was* a major fan of his “doctrinally sound, and proud of it” mission. He gave me so many comebacks for challenges that were as hard hitting as they were short and to the point. He had a solidity to his preaching that you don’t see too often in real life (I’m lucky to have a pastor who has a lot of old school no nonsense in him, for when I travel, I wonder half the time what non-denomination church I accidentally wandered into). He breathed a vitality and vigor to points that are either ignored for diversity and understanding’s sake, or normally spoken of in $20 words by academics talking in a monotone, with no meat on the bones. When he’d heartily say “Christ belongs in a place of honor, and not in a broom closet,” many of us who see church remodeling that takes the tabernacle away from the central focus and puts it literally in the old closet can say a hearty “Oh heck yeah!’”

    There is a place for things and people that appeal to women and feed their faith, as well as there should be. But there’s so few that speak to men on their wavelength, that when one comes around of whom you’d say “If he grabbed the guide-on and went charging up that hill against the enemy, by God I’ll be right beside him.” There’s the pull of JP II, and why he was immediately proclaimed The Great upon his death, and why many felt comfortable when a man with the nickname “God’s Rotweiller” was elected his successor. There’s a reason when you say names like Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi, Mike Ditka, Bob Knight, or R. Lee Ermey, guys sit ramrod straight, set their jaws, and quietly nod in veneration. Five days a week on Relevant Radio, I had an hour of training with my drill sergeant.

    I chalk it up to this rarity as part of the reason people are defending him like this, against all reason. Unlike me, there’s a lot who say “If we lose him, who’s the backup pitcher?” He was like rain in the desert. Then it’s back to the milquetoast beta male at home parish that might draw the old ladies with his sweetness and delicateness, but the guys don’t feel drawn to “just women’s business – men don’t concern themselves with that.”

    But Fr. Corapi thought the swagger was the thing, hence the Harley jacket. Sorry, that was the hull of the ship we sat in for the trip. The engine room and rudder were the preaching of the Faith. I won’t sit in an unpowered, undirected ship, and many others will see that for what it is, too. Sorry man, you jumped the shark.

    But I have who I call “our Bob Knight” in respect for his getting the parish to toe the line, who I’ve seen call a spade a spade from the pulpit on many occasions, who if you want your kids baptized and in the school, you better be a familiar face as parents who lead by example and practice the Sacraments frequently so he knows he’s not baptizing someone out of cultural/ethnic reasons and the child WILL be brought up in the Faith. But for millions of others, who is the next one to feed their need? Who will be their spiritual Ditka?

  • Patricia

    Please tell me I can close my eyes and have this whole John Corapi nightmare be over…
    Things are not going in a good direction.
    John Corapi has nothing to stand on and my guess is that he is going to have a major burn out.
    Please, someone throw him a life saver.

  • Left Coast Catholic

    Wonderful review. Thanks, I missed it here on the left coast. Maybe John Corapi will watch it with me. How silly that deluded man looks!He can’t even look the viewer in the eye. How telling. I could not get past half way through.

    But “Of Gods and Men” is at the top of my netflix. Maybe we can get the parish to watch it and discuss it in small groups…

    Thanks for the great insights. Now I’m much more excited to see it.

    BTW, I tell folks ragging on Corapi that I take some blame: I have not prayed for priests consistently enough over the years. I’m part of the problem. So, I’m not casting too much more than a pebble. But I do worry that we’re ordaining men with proven sex and drug addictions. We have one in our seminary now (wonderful guy but, what if he reignites like Corapi?). Many of us are worried but don’t know what to do…

    Happy Lord’s Day

  • Left Coast Catholic

    Me again. Tonight at vigil mass a Nigerian priest, Fr. Vincent, preached about how the muslims are slaughtering his people, cutting open pregnant women with machetes, butchering and burning the babies in public. He himself was beaten nearly to death. A fellow priest was coming back from mass and surrounded by a mob, dragged from the car, and cut into pieces bit by bit as he screamed in agony. Fr. V said they started with his ears, then hands, then eyes, etc. and left him to bleed to death in the road, still vested from mass. When you quoted, “help me, help me, oh, help me.” it hit home. He said the extremist mobs appear out of nowhere and he said, “You cannot come up with a miracle in that moment”. He admitted that they feel powerless, but REFUSE to give up. Their faith drives them on. I think you nailed it when you quoted that line. And here we have Southern Sudan and Nigeria and other places all feeling the same. May God help us to remember to pray heartily for them, our besieged brothers and sisters in far flung regions. What happens when they begin to carve us up here at home?

  • Deb

    Father knew himself, many caught, many missed, things in his talks about himself that showed his weakness’s and fears.
    The sad part was he wanted to alone but didnt want to be alone and there wasn’t anyone to help him, he was like a “lone wolf”. Everyone was secular in his company.
    Addictions of any kind are hard, especailly if you are in the same world, things can be as addicting as drugs.

    He is in need of prayers, he knows what he has done and he knows he is hurting, he might not know what to do to help himself though.

  • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com Kevin


    The beauty of the Catholic Church is that there will always be that voice. One just looks at the new crop of priests, and they seem to be more and more solid with each “draft class.”

    Most of them are associate pastors now around me, just waiting for the call up to the “big leagues” of running their own parish. I don’t know what the world has in store for things. Yet I do know with priests and seminarians I know and see all the time, they will at least put up one glorious fight for the faith.

    What strikes me best is (at least right now) their humility. They point you not to their own stories, but the “stories” of the Gospel.

    Benedict became pope promising to clean out the filth of the priesthood. Some, direct action has been taken. Others, slowly but surely, one by one, the personality cults die out. There may be a void and a vacuum left by Fr. Corapi. The beauty of the Catholic Church is that such a void WILL be filled.

  • Debra

    There are wonderful priests and nuns doing great work for the Lord everyday, it’s just not broadcast the same way.
    I read in Fr. Greochel’s order many e-letters that warmed my heart and the other day there was another.
    What these priests and brothers did and do everyday is what I am in awe of, flawed human beings of course, but doing God’s work as best they can.
    God works in mysterious ways…

  • Mary M

    Elizabeth, I wrote down the name of the movie. It sounds wonderful. I plan on watching it. Thank you for the review.

    As for Fr.Corapi he alluded to the last ten years being difficult. What happened? I just wish he would come clean, ask for forgiveness and go and live with his community. He appears to have fallen far away from God’s grace. I’m struggling with was Fr. John Corapi ever real? I don’t know who he is any more and I don’t think he knows who he is. This new persona of his is very disturbing. Surprisingly I have heard some Catholics post that they find this “new look” cool and continue to “adore” him and use profanity against his accusser. This is absolutely irrational and I don’t know where this is coming from. Let’s all pray and beg God to shower John with graces and that he be willing to accept them.

  • James


    The “how” is our fallen human nature, our pride, our self-centered lusts, our fears, and our despair.

    The “why” is Satan; The Deceiver, The Murderer from the Beginning.

    The greater the blessings- the greater the temptations.

    “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” Luke 12:48

  • Ken in Kansas

    Sadly, as a Protestant, with a deep affection for Rome I might add, this is all too familiar. One of the things I admired about the Roman Catholic Church was the expectation of humility among her servants. In Protestant circles we seem to want our pastors to be rock stars and not shepherds. We want preaching that entertains, that makes us feel that other people and their sins and short comings are the problem, and that so often feeds on the adrenalin of the flesh and not the deep moving of the Spirit. And the Sacrament of the Table? How can a man claim to be holy when he avoids serving the very means by which he and others are sanctified?

    Catholics, don’t follow in our footsteps.

  • Allan Wafkowski

    Corapi the former priest now appears as a character in Black Beard the Harley King. Really, who cares anymore. The story ended in June when Corapi quit the priesthood.

    From what has happened since, it’s fairly clear that he quit because he could not defend against the accusations–not because of an unjust process as he complains–but because he is guilty. By quitting the priesthood the charges go away because he transgressed moral laws, not so much civil laws (with the exception of his drug use, which he chose to not even attempt to defend).

    There is a trait winding through this whole affair: observe have many times the pronoun “I” is used by Corapi. Then contrast that with how many times he uses the words and phrases “church, scandal, for the good of, obedience, humility, saints…and soon on. These sentiments, that ought to be playing a major role in this affair, are absent.

    Corapi has taken an attitude that explains his failure as a priest. He places I before thee. He works for God like a hired hand, not a lover. Corapi can talk the hind leg off a mule, but he is unable to put himself second. This is a very flawed man.

    There are people who have been touched by Corapi’s preaching. It appears not a few came back to the Church as a result of what they heard though Corapi.

    The sometimes maniacal protestations by Corapi supports ought not be dismissed. There is a great opportunity to teach about the insignificance of one sinful man in the service of Jesus Christ. We expect people to sin. God gave us a sacrament to disarm these sins. Nothing is out of control. It is all flowing as God planned.

  • Kaylan

    I was very upset with this comment in the article: “all I saw was self loathing and imprisonment..” This seems to say that the one who wrote this thinks Corapi is guilty and thus, self-loathing. Honestly, I have been so upset with most of the blog sites discussing this case. True, Corapi’s blacksheep dog status is very unusual and true, most of us think he should never have given up on the priesthood no matter what the circumstances BUT we truthfully can not know WHO is lying in this case. If the accusations against him are true or false. Only those involved know the truth (and God) at this point. Even official statements can be incorrect since it seems (from Corapi’s standpoint) that no one is giving him a fair chance to defend himself or speak. Anyone of us could act so oddly given the circumstances, with someone defaming your entire existence and/or accusing you of terrible things. I am upset that Corapi has removed his clerical collar but I think it is more upsetting that people can get on their high horse and pretend to be “better than thou” and believe he is guilty. Unless he comes right out and says he actually sinned, I can not point a finger. Everyone has their breaking point and perhaps all the accusations against Corapi just made him realize he needs a major break. Wrong direction? Perhaps, but it doesn’t make him guilty at all.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    People really do read what they want to read. A person can be full of self-loathing and imprisoned by those feelings, or other feelings or doubts, while being guilty of nothing or anything. I have never presumed to know his guilt or innocence, and it’s pretty clear we never will know what all of this has been about. I simply saw an expression that touched my heart and made me pray for the guy. But by all means assign the worst possible motives to me.

  • Theca

    Mary M, I was thinking earlier about what happened 10 years ago. It was the priest scandal. He talked in older talks about how his “honeymoon” period wore off and then the scandals came about and then priests he knew, priests he loved, could no longer function as priests due to accusations. I think several of the men he most looked up to had had accusations and might or might not have gotten treated fairly. He spoke openly in talks about how tempted he was to leave the church. He was very serious.

    The more I think about it, the more I think that’s when he really stopped trusting bishops, started looking out for himself more. Then the more of a loner he was and the less trusting he got and the more money he made the further away he got from where he had been. (That’s assuming he was exactly as he appeared in the 90s.)

  • Debra

    He was also honest about his ego, how he missed the “love letters” now they were hateful, people didn’t trust priests, but he also said, we have to carry of the sins of our brothers on our shoulders.

  • Teresa

    I am returning Of Gods and Men to Netflix today. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  • Mary M

    Theca – Thanks for the insight on “ten years”.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    @e_scalia in #24
    I had a similar reaction. The man has become a caricature of himself and all I could sense is pain underneath it all. Until now I had become embittered toward him. Now I feel compassion. Dianne at Te Deum Laudamus has a great blog on Corapi’s transition over the years. Definitely worth reading.

    On “Gods and Men,” Fr. Baron had an excellent video review a number of weeks back. It’s probably not hard to find with a good search.

  • http://joyfulpapist.wordpress.com JoyfulPapist

    I was reading this morning about the place of community life in the Rule of St Benedict, and of the three Benedictine promises: stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience. John Corapi’s current situation casts a sharp light on the importance and relevance of the Rule:

    “Benedict’s genius was to understand that each person’s rough edges — all the defenses and pretensions and blind spots that keep the monastic from growing spiritually — are best confronted by living side by side with other flawed human beings whose faults and failings are only too obvious. St. Benedict teaches that growth comes from accepting people as they are, not as we would like them to be. His references to the stubborn and the dull, the undisciplined and the restless, the careless and the scatterbrained have the ring of reality. Though Benedict was no idealist with respect to human nature, he understood that the key to spiritual progress lies in constantly making the effort to see Christ in each person — no matter how irritating or tiresome…

    Stability means that the monastic pledges lifelong commitment to a particular community. To limit oneself voluntarily to one place with one group of people for the rest of one’s life makes a powerful statement. Contentment and fulfillment do not exist in constant change; true happiness cannot necessarily be found anywhere other than in this place and this time. For Benedictines, stability proclaims rootedness, at-homeness, that this place and this monastic family will endure.

    Likewise, by fidelity to the monastic way, Benedictines promise to allow themselves to be shaped and molded by the community — to pray at the sound of the bell when it would be so much more convenient to continue working, to forswear pet projects for the sake of community needs, to be open to change, to listen to others, and not to run away when things seem frustrating or boring or hopeless.

    Obedience also holds a special place in Benedict’s community. Monastics owe “unfeigned and humble love” to their abbots and prioresses, not because they are infallible or omniscient, but because they take the place of Christ. St. Benedict carefully outlined the qualities the leaders should possess — wisdom, prudence, discretion, and sensitivity to individual differences. The exercise of authority in the Rule points more to mercy than justice, more to understanding of human weakness than strict accountability, more to love than zeal. What defines the leader of a Benedictine community is not being head of an institution but being in relationship with all the members.”

    [And happy Feast of St. Benedict to you! -admin]

  • http://joyfulpapist.wordpress.com JoyfulPapist
  • Fr. Frank

    I have Netflix on my Roku and Of Gods and Men doesn’t appear to be available there. Can anyone ‘splain if I’m doing something wrong? I’m very ignorant about these things. Thanks!

    [I don't know what Roku is? I found Of Gods and Men by doing a search on netflix. -admin]

  • Dan R

    Unfortunately, Fr. Frank, the Netflix streaming library is significantly smaller than the DVD library.

  • Fr. Frank

    Roku is a streaming library with zillions of channels like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon – all of which I am dumb enough to pay for while at the same time being too dumb to use. My technological aptitude lies somewhere between crossword puzzles and Yahtzee.

  • Debra

    I just got netflix for the summer to try it out..this will be on my list.