People got used to the fact the scientists do not believe in the things that seem to be supernatural and lack substantial evidence. Mainly, they consider religion to be a concept created by the human beings in order to explain the things they do not understand. Still, the absence of belief did not prevent scientists from focusing on the spiritual and religious traditions, their origins, uses and influences on individuals. Very often they are discussed along with the psychological well-being because it is claimed to be tightly connected with people’s experiences. Various schools of spirituality may affect individual’s condition differently because they have distinct focuses. However, their major principles and practices are targeted at the improvement of people’s life from the religious point of view, which also has a positive effect on the psychological grows.
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This paper tends to investigate the way the School of Benedictine Spirituality and its major principles influence people’s well-being. This school is chosen because it represents one of the world’s largest religions and focuses on the way of life that is modeled on Jesus, which presupposes high spirituality.
Importance of the School
There are numerous religions nowadays, and each of them has something in common while some basic concepts tend to differ. Christianity is known as one of the most spread religions, according to which the Son of God came to save humanity. There are three main denominations of Christianity that differ in their doctrines and practices even though they have the same roots. The Roman Catholic Church is one of them, and it has the greatest number of followers all over the world. Catholic spirituality presupposes the belief in one’s life-affecting faith, praying at Mass and other practices that differ in the range of religious orders (Brill, 2014).
The School of Benedictine Spirituality represents one of the monastic orders known as Benedictine spirituality that was started by Saint Benedict of Nursia. He believed that life is a journey, during which a person should be looking for God. “The Rule of Benedict” is a book that gathers St. Benedict’s beliefs and views that are developed in connection to the values of Jesus. The Benedictine Way of life is undertaken today by the individuals who are “striving towards Christian perfection in the community, liturgical prayer, and separation from worldly concerns” (Benedictine spirituality, 2013, par. 1).
St. Benedict lived in 480-550 in Italy, where he established a monastery. It was the first monastery at Monte Cassino, so it is not surprising that this person and his contribution are valued even today. With the course of time, people started to call him the Father of Western Monasticism, which proves that his actions played a vital role in the establishment of religious orders and the way of approaching God. The main prayer that is used by the followers is Lectio Divina, and according to its moments, people undertake such practices as “Lectio (Reading Scripture), Meditatio (Reflection on the Word), Oratio (Praying), and Contemplatio (Silently listening to God)” (Benedictine spirituality, 2013, par. 1).
The School of Benedictine Spirituality is willing to help people enhance their spirituality, which is claimed to be a search for the sacred that is seen as “a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions aimed at personal well-being and personal development” (Benedictine spirituality, 2013, par. 2). It provides guidance for living and encourages the whole communities to improve their knowledge of the Lord’s Service and explore the dynamics of the world in St. Benedict’s view. This School tends to teach individuals; that is why it holds courses in a variety of formats that help the representatives of the general public get to know more about the Benedictine way. Such approach is critical because it allows to make sure that the information gathered starting with the 6th century is understood by the followers in the right way and no false interpretations are spread.
The practices supported by the representatives of the School of Benedictine Spirituality are aimed at the teaching people spiritual guides that they can use to discover God’s presence and actions. The unique prayerful reading is highly valued by the followers and is considered to be the main treasure that can be accessed by the current communities (Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, 2016). Prayer is considered to be one of the core values that are identified in “The Rule of Benedict” that “establishes a way of life rooted in the Gospel and grounded in the scriptural principles of charity, humility, stability, and faithfulness” (Benedictine spirituality, 2013, par. 5).
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The spirituality of St. Benedict is not made to make individuals forget about the everyday life. It teaches them to work, pray, learn and live efficiently. A range of everyday practices gives people an opportunity to become fully engaged in religion and improve their well-being in the framework of daily existence. The School identifies the way people should think about themselves, treat others and act in different situations. It helps to find out what is really vital and to reduce adverse influences of negative events and experiences.
School of Benedictine Spirituality and Psychological Growth
According to Joshi, Kumari and Jain (2008) psychological well-being is “the state of feeling healthy and happy, having satisfaction, relaxation, pleasure and peace of mind” (345). The School of Benedictine Spirituality uses a range of spiritual practices in order to improve the psychological well-being of its members by teaching them how to build the caring family, be responsible, create the positive atmosphere and utilize resources effectively.
Scientists who investigate the psychology of health and religion tend to believe that such practices improve people’s mental health greatly. Ellen Idler (2008) claims that the decisions individuals make are often based on the spiritual beliefs and values. Thus, they can form one’s lifestyle habits and determine if a person uses alcohol, for example. “The Rule of Benedict” describes 13 values that are to be taken into consideration by religious people.
They indicate a set of practices that people should stick to if they want to have a life that is modeled on Jesus. Such kind of spiritual orientation is proved to be advantageous even for individuals with schizophrenia. It provides them with the opportunity to comfort themselves and find hope. Except for that, behavior problems in childhood and adolescence can also be solved with the help of guidance set by the School of Benedictine Spirituality. They are likely to reduce aggression, lying, bullying, and improves academic performance (Sharma, Charak, & Sharma, 2009).
They give the individuals an understanding of the way they can create a strong and caring family, which is critical for everyone. They may also be used to build civic and church communities that can gather people, making them closer to each other. In such relations, people are likely to share responsibilities, which gives them an opportunity to support the members of the community. As a result, a positive climate is created that encourages to recognize both community as a unity and its members as unique individuals.
Thus, the principles of the school of spirituality give an opportunity to feel a sense of support and connection that is also critical for people’s well-being (Idler, 2008). The School of Benedictine Spirituality teaches how to adapt to different circumstances but stick to the key values and principles. Moreover, spirituality helps to define effective methods of coping with different problems. It can decrease “anxiety, depression, irritability, and moodiness, and improve learning ability, memory, self-actualization, feelings of vitality and rejuvenation, and emotional stability” (Joshi et al., 2008, 347).
It was also noticed that family and material happiness are promoted with the help of religious principles. A welcoming atmosphere that is maintained within the community can be transferred even to the homes and working places of the School’s members. As a result, they receive an opportunity to create a mindset that allows them to relax and heal themselves, which is vital for one’s happiness (Joshi et al., 2008). People are encouraged to listen to each other and to be sensitive so that they can extend acceptance to all individuals.
They are also encouraged to be creative and innovative. New ideas and acceptance of changes are claimed to be critical, as they provide an opportunity to live and work in various environments without giving up to stress or frustration. Regular practices are advantageous as they help to avoid depression and improve one’s self-esteem. The School of Benedictine Spirituality emphasizes that the human life is precious, and it should be cherished. Thus, all people should be treated with dignity regardless of their personal characteristics such as age, gender, social status, etc. Of course, the followers believe that spirituality plays an important role in their lives, but they also believe that the dignity at the working place is critical. That is why they encourage the members to participate in the process of making decisions that are likely to influence one’s life.
According to the School of Benedictine Spirituality, human resources should be utilized in a right way as well as material and monetary resources or energy. It is crucial to create a decent schedule in this perspective, as it will help to make sure that one has enough time to work and pray. The intellectual and material heritage that came to the public from the previous generations is encouraged to be retained by the followers of Benedictine spirituality.
In this way, it can be concluded that the major principles of the School of Benedictine Spirituality enrich human life and integrate thought and action in it. All these activities and practices help in the promotion of physical, mental and spiritual growth, which proves that spirituality and psychology are tightly connected. The guidance they provide reduces negative influences of stress and physical maladies, help to cope with or even avoid depression, and decreases anxiety and frustration. It can even solve behavior problems in childhood and adolescence, create the positive environment in the workplace and at home, make one feel support from the people around and find comfort. Some principles can improve the condition of individuals with schizophrenia allowing them to find hope and strength through spiritual practices.
Benedictine spirituality. (2013).
Brill,S. (2014). Ten ways to better spiritual engagement with our catholic friends.
Idler, E. (2008). The psychological and physical benefits of spiritual/religious practices. Spirituality in Higher Education Newsletter, 4(2), 1-5.
Joshi, S., Kumari S., & Jain, M. (2008). Religious belief and its relation to psychological well-being. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 34(2), 345-354.
Sharma, P., Charak, R., & Sharma, V. (2009). Contemporary perspectives on spirituality and mental health. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 31(1), 16-23.
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Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict. (2016). A School of Benedictine Spirituality.