GuerricThrough his faith and gentleness the Lord sanctified him.

These words were written of Moses, but they may today be applied not unfittingly, I think, to blessed Benedict.

For since he was filled with the Spirit of all the saints, it is reasonable to believe that he had not a little of Moses’ spirit.

If the Lord took some of the spirit of Moses and put it upon the whole group of elders who assisted him and were chosen to share his ministry, how much more must he have put that spirit on a man who more truly and more spiritually carried out every ministry in its fullness?

Moses led those who came forth from Egypt; Benedict was leader of those who forsook the world.

Moses was a legislator: so was Benedict.

Moses was minister only of the letter that kills; Benedict was minister of the spirit that gives life.

Moses wrote much that is difficult to understand and inapplicable today or impossible to put into practice;

Benedict is the author of a very sound rule of life that is clearly written and remarkable for its discretion.

Finally, the leader of the children of Israel did not bring into the promised rest those he had led out of Egypt.

Our leader, as the standard bearer of an army of monks, has gone before us by the straight way, the way stretching east, into the kingdom of heaven.

It is therefore not unreasonable to think that he equalled in merit one whom he actually surpassed in ministry.

Nor does it seem unfitting to apply to him what scripture says of Moses: Through his faith and gentleness the Lord sanctified him, especially since Benedict, who lived what he taught, teaches us those two virtues in particular.

Brethren, it is the command of our gentle and peace-making Master that we should be at peace with one another. Yet before that he says: Have salt in yourselves.

He knows well that peaceful gentleness nourishes vices unless the severity of zeal has first sprinkled them with the sharp taste of salt, just as mild weather causes meat to grow wormy unless the heat of salt has dried it out.

Therefore be at peace with one another, but let it be a peace that is seasoned with the salt of wisdom.

Try to acquire gen­tleness, but let it be a gentleness filled with the warmth of faith.

Guerric of Igny (c.1070/80-1157): Sermon 4 on the Feast of St  Benedict (PL 185,111-112), @ Dom Donald’s Blog.