The Reality of God’s World

Benedict and Francis. There are a number of parallels in these two saints’ lives. Both had strong female companions, Benedict’s sister Scholastica and Francis’ convert Clare. Both responded to their times to create new movements within Christianity. But both shared a view of the world that is being lost to us.

They both believed that the world existed in Christ. This view is lost to us in a pluralistic world where we see multiple faiths in parallel competition and beliefs within the world. Benedict and Francis both understood that the world existed within its creator’s will, even though it had gone astray. Our belief or faith is not understood as a choice among choices as though we picked a product up off the shelf of options at a religious candy store. But rather the world exists in a reality that faith attempts to describe.

Hence, theology was a science. This view is lost. And theology has been placed on the shelf of philosophy; wisdom about and not the study of the reality of God. This loss makes their decisions to seek God in the world through silence and let go of everything to live alone in the wilderness seem like madness. What it was for them was scientific exploration; leaping out into the wilderness of God without the distractions of the world around them.

They were entering a laboratory of observation that demanded the same mania, focus, and attention that nuclear labs demand today. They threw themselves into the reality of God’s providence and protection, his love, with their whole beings.

This is not nostalgia for us, but rather a serious question for every Christian who lives in the world: do we shop around for the best deal on faith, or are we willing to throw ourselves into reality, God’s reality, with the abandonment of the world and same faith that the saints did?

The wilderness is not kind or easy. Both Benedict and Francis had difficulties beyond hunger and loneliness. They both were betrayed by friends, and undercut by associates. They both watched their experimental communities fail. But they kept the faith and saw their lives through. They overcame and trusted God in the midst of it all.

They didn’t do it alone. We all need a companion. I doubt we would have Benedict without Scholastica or Francis without Clare. We need those who will go with us, risk with us, hold us accountable, and build us up. Who goes with you, O saint?

Come with us as we explore together the reality of God’s world.