Memorial of Saints Maur and Placid
Scripture Readings: 1 Sm 3:1-10, 19-20; Mk 1:29-39
In the Rule of St. Benedict we search in vain to find age limits for accepting men into monastic life. Chapter 59 of the Rule provides a ritual for receiving very young boys, and in the next two chapters St. Benedict writes about receiving those who are older: adult men, priests and pilgrim monks. Age was not a limitation. In the life of St. Benedict a story about his young disciple, St. Maur, walking on water to rescue the younger St. Placid from drowning, indicates not only their sanctity but also their youth.
The prophet Samuel was only a boy when called by God, and the prophet Jeremiah was also called when quite young (Jer 1:6). Jeremiah himself encourages giving one’s self to God at an early age. He writes, “It is good to bear the yoke from one’s youth” (Lam 3:27). Not many decades ago men as young as 16 entered monastic communities, like Dom Jean Chanut, an abbot of Citeaux, and our own Fr. Paschal Konarski. Six abbots of New Melleray entered at the age of 19. For sure, making solemn vows requires long preparation and maturity. But I think young men are more likely to grow in human and Christian maturity within the monastery than amid the temptations and seductions of our world today. Even those who stay for a few months or years and then leave benefit from their spiritual formation and return to their homes all the better for it.
Perhaps the lives of Maur and Placid can encourage us to offer monastic life to both young and old alike. After all, these two young men are honored as saints today, like Samuel, Jeremiah, and so many others.