[Philip Bess, Notre Dame University]
What would bringing Benedictines to Seaside accomplish? The main achievement would be a permanent worshipping community in Seaside, the effect of which would be to animate Seaside’s currently understated acknowledgement of the sacred order within which Seaside exists. This is because the most appropriate human acknowledgement of and response to the sacred is to worship, especially to offer as gifts things in and by which we ask the sacred to be present among us: prayers, song, bread and wine, acts of justice and charity, church buildings, cities—and sometimes, consecrated religious life. But why Benedictines? After all, there are many disciplined worshipping communities besides these Catholic Christian ones, and holy men and women of many historic religious traditions can no doubt be recognized as such.
Benedictines suggest themselves for Seaside by virtue of their history, i.e., how they testify to the love of God for all and how they draw others closer to God by the example of their lives. Moreover, they do this in a disciplined way with deep resonance even for moderns, according to their ancient Rule that in ordering their lives in imitation of Christ simultaneously reaches back to embrace living Judaism, and forward to embrace not only the reforming ambitions of Protestant Christians but the yearnings for peace and justice of all men and women of good will.