Italy - Benedictine Stability

Stability - How an ancient monastic practice can restore our relationships, churches and communities

We all feel it at some point—
the sense of being fractured, disconnected from God and others, anxious, overwhelmed. The ancient remedy is Stability, a Benedictine value rooted in a deep commitment to a people, a place, and a purpose.

This Lent, we are hosting a series of Lenten talks on the topic of Stability, featuring Nathan Oates, Kathleen Norris, Michael Patrick O'Brien, Ronald Rolheiser and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. To register, or for more information, click here.

Nathan Oates, the author of Stability: How an Ancient Monastic Practice can Restore Our Relationships, Churches and Communities, will begin the series with a talk on “Stability and God/Stability and Self” on Wednesday, March 9th at 7:00 PM Eastern. 

What follows is an excerpt from the introduction to this timely book!

This is a book about becoming that footing. This is a book about changing culture by staying. And this is a book about how stability births meaningful movement.

Much of the movement happening in our always-mobile culture is destructive, resulting in frenzied individuals, disintegrated families, fractured communities, and toxic environments. The engine of this destructive movement is the well-nourished desire for gratification through consumption. Often aimless and self-centered, this destructive movement is little more than a repeating cycle of leaving and looking. But some of the movement happening among us is powerfully effective. It grounds us personally, enriches our relationships, restores environments. This restorative movement is deeply rooted and others-focused. It is the result of staying and finding. 

The distinction between the two kinds of movement is this: one seeks to get (to acquire, to consume), while the other aims to give (to serve, heal, restore). The secret of the kind of movement that restores is that it is the fruit of having not moved for a long time.

Movement that matters is borne out of authentic stability. Only those who have stayed long enough to know themselves and their mission can restore the broken world as they go. They become missionaries carrying hope. The rest are wanderers 10 Stability who are still searching for it. So, the basic message is Go! Change the world. Restore the broken. But first, stay. For in staying one practices the skills, lives the commitment, and learns the value of stability. And stability is what makes going count. Stability is what leads to movement that matters: movement that heals and does not harm, movement that is good, the kind of movement that restores all things.

What Is Stability?

As North American culture continues to shift in ways that challenge the once-favored position and perspectives of the church, Christians must discover and perhaps recover faithful ways of being the body of Christ in the world. Simply riding the wave of cultural influence by means of political and material power is no longer viable. We must learn to be the church in a time when the value of the church and her message is seen with skepticism, if not entirely dismissed. We must recommit to learning how to be the church in actual neighborhoods which need gospel-driven restoration displayed in clear and practical specificity.

The church has faced similar and far more severe situations before and has endured. For example, when the Roman Empire crumbled into ruins in the fifth century and threatened to destroy the Church in the process, a young monk from Nursia named Benedict emerged with a vision for Christian community which rescued not only the Church, but Western civilization as well. By looking to such examples from the past, we can reimagine effective ways of engaging the present and shaping the future. Failure to seriously consider the teachings and practices of those, like Benedict, who charted a faithful course through similarly challenging times is to ignore some of our greatest wisdom.

The fact that active and vibrant monastic communities still exist offers a compelling invitation to discover ways these ancient teachings are still being practiced. And the resurgence of new or “neo” monastic communities, intentionally embedding themselves in the fabric of their communities in twenty-first-century ways, reveals an essential element of meaningful cultural engagement. St. Benedict called this essential element “stability.”

My hope is that this book will encourage you to engage the culture with a compelling alternative to the dominant values and practices of this culture. I invite you to consider, as one especially compelling alternative, the value of stability. I believe that by personally valuing and practicing stability, and by leading our churches toward becoming communities of stability, we will become an embodied force for restoration.

- Excerpted from Stability: How an Ancient Monastic Practice can Restore Our Relationships, Churches and Communities

This Lent, we are hosting a series of Lenten talks on the topic of Stability, featuring Nathan Oates, Kathleen Norris, Michael Patrick O'Brien, Ronald Rolheiser and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. To register, or for more information, click here.

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