The Benedictine way of life is determined by the monastic rule of Saint Benedict, which was written in the 6th century and contributed greatly to occidental European culture. It represents a concept of adapting the Christian Holy Scripture (the Bible) for the life of a religious community that chooses to stay in a particular place and shape it sustainably (stabilitas loci). The idea of Benedictine monasticism can be summed up in a few words: ora et labora et lege (pray and work and read).
Every Benedictine monastery is an independent entity and has to try to give shape to this basic formula, in keeping with the challenges of its particular place and time. Therefore, Benedictine monasteries are very different across the globe and have faced significant changes throughout history. One constant which unites all monasteries is that the day is structured by common prayer (“choral prayer”) which takes place at specific times (“liturgy of the hours”), at least in the morning, at midday, and in the evening.
Searching for God
Benedictine monasticism endeavors to give a concrete answer to the question of God and human existence and to hereby testify that our history doesn’t have to end in God-forsakenness and nihilism. Monastic life offers an alternative to the usual way of life and builds upon 15 centuries of experience, which nevertheless has to be updated constantly. This experience means that, as an individual and in a community, a person has a real chance to encounter God. Thus SEARCHING for GOD is what the monastic father Benedict asks of his pupils first and foremost. Benedictine monasteries want to share this experience of searching for God with everyone they encounter, regardless of their religion or secular worldview: guests, students, tourists, as well as the visitors of this website.
Benedictines in Austria ǀ International
Melk Abbey is member of the Austrian Benedictine Congregation Österreichischen Benediktinerkongregation, a union of Austrian Benedictine monasteries, whose leader is now Abbot Johannes Perkmann. On an international level, the Benedictine monasteries are connected through the Benedictine Confederation which is currently presided over by Gregory Polan as Abbot Primate.
“Having opened our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with awestruck ears what the divine voice, crying out daily, doth admonish us.” RB Prologue 9
Through a gentle visual and acoustic presentation Saint Benedict’s Path imparts important wisdom and elemental beliefs from Saint Benedict’s monastic rule.
Saint Benedict’s Path calls attention to various typical Benedictine points of view. The thoughts expressed by the author of Saint Benedict’s Path, Melk’s former abbot Dr. Burkhard Ellegast, bespeak his own decades of effort to live according to Saint Benedict’s Rule. In addition, Saint Benedict’s Path also offers passages from former abbot primate Notger Wolf’s book “Worauf warten wir? (What are we waiting for?)”
Saint Benedict’s Path is intended to encourage us to consciously set boundaries, to respect rules, and yet to constantly learn to keep moving. It points out possibilities to forge one’s own path in one’s own particular situation.
Saint Benedict’s Path is situated in the Northern part of Melk abbey park, east of the garden pavilion. Upon 12 stands visitors find quotes from Saint Benedict’s Rule and reflections about it. Music can be heard in two places (Saint Benedict’s Song, Gregorian chant).
Der BENEDIKTUSWEG im Melker Stiftspark
VIA BENEDICTI MELLICENSIS
by abbot em. Dr. Burkhard Ellegast OSB
German version available in Melk abbey’s gift shop or online at shop(at)stiftmelk.at