One of the retreat topics that Father Joel has discussed with us is the Benedictine vow of stability. For us monks, stability means belonging to a particular monastery. We don’t simply belong to the “Benedictine Order,” in the abstract, but to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, the place we call “home.”
In other words, the vow of stability means a commitment to a specific community and to a place where one finds one’s bearings and discovers the truth about self. Stability is intended to promote living life out of a center, and the center is none other than Jesus Christ.
Saint Benedict calls the monastery “Domus Dei,” that is, “the house of God,” or “the Lord’s dwelling place.” By professing a life-long vow of stability (along with obedience and conversion of life), the monk allows the monastery to give direction and meaning to his life.
Another way to express this reality is that the place changes the monk and the monk changes the place. The hope is that this is positive change in both instances!
Stability in a monastery bears witness to the opposite of restlessness and wandering. One of the Psalms describes so well what stability is meant to foster when it says: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Exterior stability in any walk of life should promote interior stability and in turn, growth in the knowledge and love of God.
May we all find the “land and the locale,” as Father Joel expressed it, where we can “come ’round right,” as the famous American Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts,” characterizes our going to God.
Abbot Christian and the monks