Several stories about traveling to Mars came my way from multiple sources; with all that is going on here on Earth, maybe everyone is thinking about getting away. Also, a new round of mission simulations is beginning, to answer questions about whether humans have the right stuff for the long voyage and relatively isolated experience on-planet. Some concerns are physiological, while others are psychological and sociological — will the minimal human contact drive the astronauts mad, and will they get on each others’ nerves? Previous simulations have suggested that an all-female crew might be the best bet, for logistical, medical, and mental reasons. [Read more…] about Science Corner: Mission to Malacandra
Aelred of RievaulxÂ (1110 â€“ 1167) onÂ Spiritual Friendship
St. Aelred of RievaulxÂ (1110-1167) was a twelfth-century Cistercian abbot and well-known spiritual writer,Â whose treatise “Spiritual Friendship,” is widely considered a classic of Christian spirituality. Inspired by Roman statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero’s philosophical dialogue, “On Friendship,” Aelred approaches his subject from a decidedly religious standpoint, examining both the theoretical and practical aspects of friendship in the light of faith in Christ. Christian friendship, he maintains, is all about extending the fellowship of Christ to another. The more two persons grow as friends, the more they should sense the gentle, unobtrusive, yet abiding presence of the quiet third partner in their lives. He affirms this belief when talking to his friend Ivo at the outset of Book One, stating, “Here we are, you and I, and I hope a third, Christ, in our midst.” — Introduction.Â Spiritual Friendship: The Classic Text with a Spiritual Commentary by Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R. (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, Inc, 2008).
Aelred of RievaulxÂ (1110 â€“ 1167)
Saint Aelred of RievaulxÂ (1110 – 1167) grew up in the High Middle Ages (1000 – 1300) during the century referred to by some as “the Age of Cistercans”. As you may remember, Thomas Merton was a member ofÂ the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order and an extension of the earlier order. AND as you may remember from his picture, their habit is unique in being white in color. In 1098, the movement of self-supporting enclosed monastic communities was started in CÃ®teaux (Latin name:Â Cistercium)Â by a group of Benedictine monksÂ with a passion to strictly followÂ The Rule of St. Benedict. The passionate and organizing leadership of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 â€“ 1153) enabled the order to advance across much of Eastern and Western Europe, including the British Isles. Their “humanist” perspective birthed an emphasis on manual labor and the development of technology. [Read more…] about Christian Devotional Classics: Spiritual Friendship
If time permits, I offer to you The Holy Rule of Saint Benedict for your consideration on this day of rest and through the coming week. Note: As the Christian Devotional Classics series builds chronologically, be sure you have at least given the first part of Thomas Merton & the Desert Fathers a look before reading further. Also, you may have interest in exploring the larger question ofÂ What is a Christian Devotional Classic? Finally, as I have already mentioned, please share your insights so that we can improve the material. Yes, please consider this a “work in progress” which can be enjoyed along the way 🙂 To God be the glory!
Benedict of Nursia
Benedict of Nursia (born in Nursia, Italy c. 480 â€“ died c. 547) was a founder of Christian monastic communities and a rule giver for monks living in community. His purpose may be gleaned from his Rule, namely that â€œChrist . . . may bring us all together to life eternalâ€ The Roman Catholic Church canonized him in 1220.
Benedict founded twelve communities for monks, the best known of which is his first monastery at Monte Cassino the mountains of southern Italy. There is no evidence that he intended to found also a religious order. The Order of St Benedict is of modern origin and, moreover, not an “order” as commonly understood but merely a confederation of congregations into which the traditionally independent Benedictine abbeys have affiliated themselves for the purpose of representing their mutual interests, without however ceasing any of their autonomy.
Benedict’s main achievement is a “Rule” containing precepts for his monks, referred to as the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict. It is heavily influenced by the writings of St John Cassian (ca. 360 – 433, one of the Desert Fathers) and shows strong affinity with the Rule of the Master. But it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation, reasonableness (epieikeia), and this persuaded most communities founded throughout the Middle Ages, including communities of nuns, to adopt it. As a result the Holy Rule of St Benedict became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason Benedict is often called “the founder of western Christian monasticism” (Accessed 8/9/2013).