Envision Benedictine Stability through Visio Divina (Divine Seeing)

This is the fifth of 6 Visio Divina Meditations, as an alternative to New Years Resolutions.

Professed Benedictine monastics formally promise to uphold a 3-fold commitment to listening (obedience), stability, and fidelity (conversatio morum) while living within their communities. Oblates (lay associates) strive to apply these principles while living “in the world” outside the monastery, believing all can benefit from incorporating the timeless wisdom of The Rule of Benedict into their lives.

The Benedictine Promise of Stability

“Stability” Fiber Art by Pat Picket

Stability for a Benedictine monastic is the promise to stay put, to live out one’s life in this community, at this monastery. For most of us in the 21st century, that seems impossible, but while the promise of stability is often about a place, on the deepest level it’s about being people who keep our word, who remain faithful to our promises and commitments, who are present to the people in our lives right now, right here.
About this piece, the artist writes: Stability is green and all the colors of blue. So many different places I had to adapt and grow and plant and grow. BUT! In the middle, in the center, there is always that place I can go without distraction and maybe, just maybe sense that spark of Conversatio

How to Practice Visio Divina

Close your eyes and clear your mind.

Open your eyes and “read” the whole image. Close your eyes and rest.

Meditate on the image, let your eyes be drawn to one part of the image. Name this part.

Close your eyes and see that part of the image in your mind.

Open your eyes and look at that part of the image; notice your response — a word, another image, an emotion.

Close your eyes and rest.

Open your eyes and look at the whole image. What is speaking to you? How will you respond to this?

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Pat Picket are located at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Photos by Tracy Rittmueller with permission to publish on this blog.

Envision a self-story in which you value stability

Using Timothy Wilson’s story-editing technique from his book Redirect.

You might journal about a situation when staying put or keeping a commitment is hard. Are you bored? Afraid you’ll miss out on something more exciting? Irritated with the people in your life? Do you tend to over schedule and rush from one thing to another? Why are you filling your calendar with so many activities? Are you able to be open-heartedly with the people you are with, or are you distracted, thinking of a million other things? Why and when is the slow and steady pace of stability difficult for you?

See yourself as a person who is committed to the people in your life in the here and now. Consider, and perhaps journal, about why it is good to to be emotionally present and engaged with the people next to you, to not flit from thing to thing, to be generous in getting to know the people you live and work with, and open in letting them get to know you. Think and/or write about yourself as a person who is, or could be, an active participant in the life of the communities where you are today.

Ask God to help you grow in stability.

Now relax and let stability happen organically over time, by the opportunities and graces given to you, trusting that stability will make you a more peaceful person and spread peace in the lives of those around you. May your increasing stability bring more peace to our world.


The brothers writing for Meinrad Abbey’s Echoes from the Bell Tower and Sarah Puryear’s article “In Praise of Staying Put” helped inform my thinking about Benedictine stability.