Thirty years ago I made a hitch hiking pilgrimage to Jerusalem from England, staying in Benedictine monasteries along the route. As I travelled East I experienced the deep rootedness of the monastic life. The monks were rooted in history, rooted in truth, rooted in beauty, rooted in goodness and rooted in daily life.
The analogy holds. For a tree to be healthy and strong it needs strong, healthy, deep roots. Roots, of course, are invisible, but if they are weak the whole tree is weak. If the roots develop a disease the whole tree dies. The sickness of our present society is not caused by any particular visible problem. The sickness in our society is caused by diseased and rotten roots.
Benedict the Balanced
St Benedict asks his monks to make the vow of stability of life. In other words, he is to put down deep roots. He puts down deep roots in the three aspects of life I call the sub-trinities. The sub-trinities are those aspects of human life that are intertwined and interdependent and which therefore reflect the Holy Trinity. Beauty, Truth and Goodness are a sub-trinity. They cannot exist independently of each other. So what is beautiful is also good and true. What is true is also good and beautiful and what is good is also beautiful and true.
These three aspects of human life are therefore the rich soil into which the Benedictine monk plants roots. What is good for the monks is also good for any person, and is especially valuable for educators. Part of the Benedictine tradition is to educate the young, and immersion in the sub-trinity of goodness, truth and beauty is the way the educator helps the student to put down the roots that become a foundation for the virtue of stability.
Stability in life is a sense of balance: establishing the right priorities so that everything else falls in line. In the realm of education therefore, stability is formed by the development of this sub-trinity of beauty, truth and goodness.
Strengthening Deep Roots
A love of truth will be formed through the study of philosophy, theology, mathematics and science. These disciplines grow from the human desire to discover and know the truth. They are developed through the discipline of logic, reasoning and evidence based debate.