Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Patrick Henry on the Seeking God in the Other

According to Patrick Henry, the Benedictine monk is at their core a seeker who looks to be transformed by the “other.” Read the following excerpt from his new book, Benedictine Options, and join us with your reflections in the comments. 


“Adherents of the Rule, who are always at the beginning, expect to learn new things from just about everybody, even from others who are more novice than they; after all, Benedict instructs the abbot to pay particular attention to the youngest in the community (3.3). It works the other way, too. …

The Benedictine doesn’t just expect to learn new things as in ‘new information’ or ‘new facts’; the Benedictine expects to learn new things about God, and new ways to think about things both old and new about God. To seek God after the monastic manner of life is truly to seek; it’s not just digging around in what you already know. 

And you are not afraid to seek God in the company of folks who don’t talk about God at all, because you know that God isn’t just in talk and sometimes talk is the very last place you should look for God. [It’s all about] practice, practice, practice. If ‘worship and work’ ever goes stale as the Benedictine motto, they might adopt or adapt a remark of legendary golfer Gary Player: ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get.’”

This excerpt is from a new book on Benedictine life came out on September 15, 2021. Written by monastic scholar Patrick Henry, Benedictine Options: Learning to Live from the Sons and Daughters of Saints Benedict and Scholastica, gets to the “essence” of Benedictinism, according to Sister Joan Chittister (read her summary here). Order the book here.


Reflect with us:

  1. What most resonates from this excerpt with you?
  2. Where do you go to “truly seek”; to learn new things about God? 


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