What makes Benedictine University at Springfield "Benedictine?"
A group of monastics were recently charged by the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities with developing a set of “hallmarks” that distinguish Benedictine colleges and universities from institutions guided by secular groups and other religious orders. These individuals developed a set of 10 “hallmarks,” characteristics that make a Benedictine institution “Benedictine.”
The 10 hallmarks which make a Benedictine institution “Benedictine” are: prayer, obedience, stability, discipline, stewardship, humility, community, hospitality, conversation and love.
- “Prayer” can be manifested in participation in worship with others or through meditation and mindfulness. However, “prayer” is not limited by religious affiliation. Prayer can also include the Jewish use of a formal prayer book and the Islamic practices of “salah” or reading of the Qur’an.
- The Latin root of the word “obedience” comes from “audire,” which means “to listen.” It is essential that all members of the Benedictine community find time to listen to God, to listen to oneself, to listen to others and especially to listen to those in need.
- “Stability” is the commitment to the daily life of the place in which we live.
- Learning and freedom are not possible without “discipline,” which is respect for others and the structure of community which make learning and freedom possible.
- “Stewardship” is the respect for the beauty and goodness of creation.
- Appreciation of living and working in community stresses the need for accountability for one’s actions. That appreciation and accountability require “humility,” through which honest interaction between people is possible.
- Living in “community” includes the search for the common good and respect for the individual.
- By welcoming the stranger we open our arms and our hearts to God. Through “hospitality,” we become closer to God and ultimately to truth.
- Through the process of “conversation,” we are formed and transformed.
- Christ said, “Love God above all and love thy neighbor as thyself.” The Catholic tradition emphasizes the worth and dignity of each person. Only by recognizing the solidarity of the human race and the social nature of human existence, the goodness of creation and its potential for explaining the transcendent, and through “love” for ourselves and others can we understand the connectedness of faith and reason in the search for truth.
We see these 10 hallmarks expressed and included in our own articulation of values as described above.
Our Spirit of Community
Central to the Benedictine tradition is the celebration of community as a gathering of people who share a commitment to a common mission. Benedictine University at Springfield strives to develop an academic community that supports each person in the pursuit of knowledge and personal development. This undertaking will be achieved through a life enriched by the collegiate community in which the individual’s interest is tempered by concern for the common good.
The University also attempts to bring students and faculty into harmony with their communities and the contemporary world, hoping to inspire students to recognize their responsibilities as members of the community and to become involved in its everyday life. Benedictine graduates see themselves not merely as residents, but as citizens of their communities and know that the lives of all people, regardless of social position, education or age, are entwined. Individual and collective contributions to the community are decisive in integrating the spiritual, intellectual and economic components of daily life.
Our Tradition of Academic Excellence
Benedictine University at Springfield’s commitment to academic excellence traces its roots to St. Benedict, a young hermit monk who wrote an insightful rule in the early sixth century that would serve as a guide for monastic living. Intended primarily for the men who followed him to his foundation at Monte Cassino in Italy, the life included the education of youth, some of whom would join the monastery while others would influence the world outside the cloister. During the centuries following St. Benedict until the rise of the universities in the 13th century, Benedictine educational activities expanded as monasteries grew and made new foundations.
The involvement of the Benedictines in education expanded to the new horizons of college and university education in addition to work at the secondary school level. Today there are numerous Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, as well as a large number of Benedictine high schools. Naturally, the curricula in these institutions focuses on contemporary educational needs. The challenge always demanded that the Benedictine men and women blend the 1,500 years of Benedictine values with the demands of an ever-changing pluralistic society.
The Benedictine approach to teaching has not changed dramatically since it beginning. We continue to recognize the need to improvise where necessary and to reevaluate and implement strategies ensuring that the orientation and spirit of Benedictine education will remain synonymous with scholarship, community involvement and good citizenship.
The University fulfills its commitment to liberal arts, science, business, education, health services, and adult and professional studies through excellence in teaching and interaction between students and faculty members. A liberal arts core prepares all undergraduate students to participate fully in a diverse and dynamic society – balancing their rights and duties as individuals with the demands of the common good. Professional education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, built on the liberal arts background of students, is multidisciplinary in nature and prepares graduates for roles of leadership and social responsibility.
A Life Lived in Balance
Members of the Benedictine University at Springfield community are encouraged to achieve a balance in their social and professional lives. They come to understand the self as an integrated physical, intellectual and spiritual being. While the University values the dignity of work, it recognizes that balance with leisure and prayer is equally important. Living a life in balance helps to enrich one’s personal life while fostering friendships and relationships that can span a lifetime. The Rule of St. Benedict reflects that people should strive to be content with living simply and finding balance in work, prayer, study and leisure. All things are to be done in moderation.