The Feast of Saints Maur and Placid, a lesson in obedience
On January 15th Benedictines celebrate two saints mentioned in Book Two of the Dialogues telling about the Life of Saint Benedict. In chapter seven, Saint Gregory the Great tells the story of Maur walking, well running, upon the water to save young Placid. Although his actions are amazing, the story’s emphasis isn’t about the miracle, but Maur’s humble obedience in the extraordinary circumstance to rescue Placid who had been faithful in the everyday matters in following the will of Abbot Benedict and God. Benedict’s Rule teaches that:
“The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This is the virtue of those who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ; who, because of the holy service they have professed, and the fear of hell, and the glory of life everlasting, as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior, receive it as a divine command and cannot suffer any delay in executing it. Of these the Lord says, “As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me”. And again to teachers He says, “He who hears you, hears Me” …
But this very obedience will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all only if what is commanded is done without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection. For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God, since He Himself has said, “He who hears you, hears Me”. And the disciples should offer their obedience with good will, for “God loves a cheerful giver”… (Rule of Benedict Chapter 5).
Benedict calls for not only a faithful obedience to the superior but also a cheerful and heartfelt obedience to our community (Rule of Benedict, Chapter 71). Celebrating this dual Feast of Saints Maur and Placid reminds us to celebrate our loving service to each other.
“Once while blessed Benedict was in his room, one of his monks, the boy Placid, went down to get some water. In letting the bucket fill too rapidly, he lost his balance and was pulled into the lake, where the current quickly seized him and carried him about a stone’s throw from the shore. Though inside the monastery at the time, the man of God was instantly aware of what had happened and instantly called out to Maurus: “Hurry, Brother Maurus! The boy who just went down for water has fallen into the lake, and the current is carrying him away!
What followed was remarkable indeed, and unheard of since the time of Peter the apostle! Maurus asked for the blessing and on receiving it hurried out to fulfill his abbot’s command. He kept on running even over the water until he reached the place where Placid was drifting along helplessly. Pulling him up by the hair, Maurus rushed back to shore, still under the impression that he was on dry ground that he came to himself and looking back realized that he had been running on the surface of the water. Overcome with fear and amazement at a deed he would never have thought possible, he returned to his abbot and told him what had taken place.
The holy man would not take any personal credit for the deed but attributed it to the obedience of his disciple. Maurus on the contrary claimed that it was due entirely to his abbot’s command. He could not have been responsible for the miracle himself, he said, since he had not even known he was performing it. While they were carrying on this friendly contest of humility, the question was settled by the boy who had been rescued. “When I was being drawn out of the water,” he told them, “I saw the abbot’s cloak over my head; he is the only I thought was bringing me to shore.”
Peter: What marvelous deeds these are! They are sure to prove inspiring to all who hear of them.”
(Book Two of the Dialogues: Life of Saint Benedict Chapter 7).
We invite you to reflect on Saint Gregory the Great’s story of the young saints and find a word or two to call you to care for your community today…
Blessings to you,
Return to “One Heart and One Soul”