“If we are what we eat,” asks Abbot Placid Solari, OSB, “then do we really want to ‘super-size it’?”
So begins a 60-second episode of The One-Minute Monk, which premiered on Catholic radio across the nation in June and July. In short segments of just sixty seconds, Benedictine Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey (a 132-year old monastery located just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina) provides insights into how to cope with modern life and its distractions, noise, and confusion through applying the wisdom embodied in the 1500-year old Rule of St Benedict, which guides his monastic community.
And even if you don’t live in a monastery, there is no better time than now to learn the secret of the monks, because there is a new, modernized English translation of St Benedict’s classic, and it is being made available online at http://www.oneminutemonk.com/.
“Suddenly, starting at the end of July, orders for a free copy of our modernized translation of The Rule of St Benedict just took off,” says Ken Davison, Vice President of College Relations at Belmont Abbey College, which is hosted on the property of Belmont Abbey. “We shipped 112 copies of this compact little book in just one week. Orders cooled off a bit around Labor Day, but we expect to see volume pick back up once we launch to Christian radio stations during September.”
“When we introduced The One-Minute Monk to Catholic radio in late May, we were unsure of the response,” says Sherry Brownrigg of the Kennedy Brownrigg Group, the producer and distributor of the program. “Over 70% of Catholic radio stations agreed to air the show, enabling us to reach a potential audience of more than one million listeners. Abbot Placid has lived the Rule for many years, but because Belmont Abbey College is right here, surrounding the monastery, so to speak, he has also been in contact with life outside the monastery for these students while they are in college and afterwards, so he has a very thorough understanding of how the wisdom of the monks can apply directly to our lives as lay people. It really shows through in his commentary.”
The model for a Benedictine monastery is the family, so The Rule is truly a guide to family life. God puts us all into families of one kind or another, so it actually makes good sense to introduce the modern stressed out, maxed out, on-the-go Catholic to the wisdom of 1500 years for helping families serve the growth in holiness of all their members.
In an exciting development, Christian radio stations will soon have the opportunity to begin airing The One-Minute Monk in the weeks to come.
“We have actually had listeners offer to promote the program to area Christian radio stations,” says Davison. “Christians of all denominations respect men who make such a counter-cultural sacrifice to enter a monastery, and people are curious about what it is like to be a monk. Whenever the monks do radio interviews in the Charlotte area, we get a lot of call-ins from Christians who not only have great questions, but they also exhibit a real thirst to hear a perspective about life, holiness, and faith from solid Catholic men who are joyful and confident in their vocations.”
J. Conor Gallagher of Saint Benedict Press in Charlotte, NC, took on the task of developing a modernized English translation of The Rule to make it more accessible, especially to younger generations, relying on a beautiful English translation of over 100 years ago, updated for the “modern ear.” In his editor’s note, Gallagher writes that he wanted to retain the “elegance” of that English edition. “The challenge is to retain that richness, that elegance that permeated the written English of educated men a hundred or even fifty years ago, ” he writes, while “temper[ing] the archaic tone that turns away too many readers.” He found that “removing the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ was insufficient,” and he referred back to a Latin text for verification that he was remaining true to the author’s meaning. Rose Wagner, a freshman in Belmont Abbey College’s prestigious Honors Institute, was responsible for the literally hundreds of Scriptural citations embedded in the work.
The Rule has lasted so long due to its moderation and flexibility, which makes it continually applicable across cultures and times. As Abbot Placid notes, the saint himself advises the Abbot of a monastery to exercise great prudence in applying the rule, to allow “the strong to have something to strive for, and the weak nothing to run from.” Sounds like good advice to me.
To get a free copy of The Rule of St Benedict or to listen to samples of The One-Minute Monk, go to http://www.oneminutemonk.com/. For more information about The One Minute Monk¸ contact info@KennedyBrownrigg.com.