Today’s hymn to begin the liturgy for our feast of St. Benedict begins with a prayer to our monastic forefather: “O precious jewel of the heavenly king, standard of the righteous, way of monastics, Benedict, withdraw us from the mire of the unclean world.” Peter Damian, 11th C
The word “mire” can be used to describe a situation or state of difficulty, distress, or embarrassment from which it is hard to extricate oneself. Is it truly possible to withdraw from a situation of difficulty or distress? I’m not sure, and it seems some suffering will always exist in our personal lives this side of heaven. It is possible, however, to experience freedom from “mire-full” thinking. You know, those anxious thoughts that continuously make me feel inadequate, or that want to judge others and put them down. I experience feelings of panic and fear when I’m embarrassed, or when I don’t know how to finish a job by a deadline I agreed to. We can be freed of these or any other thoughts, or “mire,” with a dose of St Benedict’s medicine.
Freedom from daily mire is part of what St Benedict’s way of life is meant to help us accomplish — to be free to cherish Christ above all, to be free of our burdens so that we are available to listen to the Holy Spirit with the “ear” of our hearts. Then, free to forgive ourselves, and genuinely desire union with Christ. In a relationship with Him, we are given the choice of freedom and with that an opportunity to become whole. Let us follow Saint Benedict’s path of prayer, obedience, and inward detachment from worldly cares which we cannot solve.