Paradox and Benedict’s Rule

This morning, the Brazos Fellows discussed the Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Lee Nelson, who invited us to consider how this ancient rule, and the monastic spirituality that it inspired which resonates down to today, teaches us to embrace paradox.


Indeed, for Benedict, paradox is at the heart of the Christian life. This life is full of seeming contradictions–God’s unconditional love for us and the need for us to pursue sanctification, Christ being both fully man and fully God, and chiefly, the way of the cross being the way of life. Along these lines, Fr. Lee shared these wise words from Esther de Waal’s book, Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality:

Life does not add up: the longer I live the more that is brought home to me. It was not the message that I received from my parents or one that was taught to me by any educational establishment as I was growing up. Nevertheless I think, looking back, that it is probably one of the most useful lessons that one can hear. It is curiously liberating to realize that I shall go on until the day of my death trying to hold differing things together and that the task (for which I need all the help I can get) must be to do it creatively, so that the tensions may become life-giving.