Today is the feast of St. Benedict according to the old Roman calendar, and the monastery and broader community is preparing for a celebratory mass and meal. In light of this, I thought I'd offer a reflection on an interesting connection I came across: St. Benedict and bees. I also hasten to mention that the Faith and Reason summer program is guided by Benedictine spirituality, and that we discuss how The Rule of St. Benedict can be incorporated into our daily lives.
Evidently there is a traditional practice of blessing bee hives on the feast of St. Benedict. The blessing does a wonderful job of connecting the animal to the spiritual: the bees provide the wax used to make the candles that illuminate the church so that we can gather together in the light. This is a great example of how the Church directs all that is good and beautiful to God's glory. As the Benedictines put this: in omnibus Deus glorificetur. "In all things may God be glorified."
To close, I should note a wonderful address that Pope Pius XII gave to a group of beekeepers. After poetically praising the bee as the model of social life and love, he exhorts his audience to imitate the selfless actions of the bee, who finds its place harmoniously in a community working toward a common goal. In addition, he notes how bees, unlike those pesky hornets and wasps, achieve a harmony with the world around them, taking only what they need and without damaging the flowers from which they draw their nourishment. As he says, "if, in a word, [humans] learned to do by intelligence and wisdom what bees do by instinct—how much better the world would be!" I never thought my day would include an exhortation to be like bees, but such is the way of Providence!