Photo Credit: Tommy O’Laughlin
What is Benedictine?
Chris Morgan, CVV 17
Chris is a Denver native, studying Theology with the Benedictines in the wilds of central Minnesota. While in CVV he worked with Slow Food Denver & Cooking Matters.
As a young boy, I rarely tired of asking any question that came to mind. My parents love to tell the story that I used to go through all the drawers in the kitchen, pull out each item, and ask, “What does this do?” Of course, I always timed this activity to coincide with my step-mom preparing dinner. I never lost that inquisitiveness, and at the same time, I spent a lot of time talking throughout my later years in middle school and high school. By the time I arrived at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN, I was pretty tired of talking just to hear my own voice, and it made for good timing that I met so many people pointing to the importance of listening.
As I grew, I noticed myself less attached to the words I wanted to say. Instead, I became more attached to listening and asking questions. My interest in listening began with a growing sense of dissatisfying conversations in my own life. At some point early on, someone showed me how a lot of people feel satisfied when someone comfortably asks them to talk. I wanted to talk less anyway, so I found peace again in asking people questions. Maybe interject something from Fr. Tom? What did community teach you about this? What about the folks you encountered at Cooking matters/slow foods?
I kept hearing various people talking about listening and the Prologue to the Rule of Benedict, so I explored that. The first line says, “Listen, my son, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart.” I realized that I could tell how deeply the Benedictine tradition has influenced individuals in my community here. I noticed how everyone practices it in their own way, and I started to hold onto the ways that rang true in my reflection. I encountered skilled counselors, wise directors, and humble peers. I shared time with hospitable monks, honorable professors, and inspiring friends. What I hold onto is their peace without speaking, their genuine interest in my story, and their humility in response to it.
My personality, my spirituality have a lot more to do with listening now. During a stressful time almost two years after graduation, I had a breakthrough in understanding about empathy. What brought me through that trial was truly listening to others in their situation and staying with their feelings and needs in our conversations. Now, I am asking more questions in prayer and trying to listen with the ear of my heart. It brought me this far, and listening is my daily practice.