Benny & the Rule of Saint Augustine [VIDEO PORTRET]

“And I couldn’t help think if Jesus would have lived now, he would have supported FC Beveren” – Benny Berrens. A video portret of Father Benny at the Norbertine abbey in Postel, Belgium.

During my stay with the solar mobile in the abbey of Postel in Belgium, I met Father Benny (36). Fourteen years ago he entered the Norbertine abbey, hidden in the woods near Mol, where the first monks settled in 1140. His clear and inspiring view of things prompted me to make a short film portrait about him.

I wondered how he had come to join in this ancient monastic community. What were his motives? And how do you like living in such a community anyway? How are the tasks divided? And how do they make an income?

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[Father Benny with the solar mobile]

“The common interest must take precedence over self-interest. The ego is only satisfied when the interest of the community is adequately served. The work for the community should be done with more zeal and love than when one works solely for himself.” Benny Berrens

When I suggested the plan, he initially had a reserved attitude towards the media. Of course a number of cases have emerged within the Catholic Church which cannot bear the light of day. Disconcerting, and important that all the attention is there for it. At the same time, it creates a sort of hyper focus, so there seems little room for a different view.

Because I do not form part of the traditional media and I got the idea of making the portrait during my stay as a guest in the monastery, trust was created in a natural way. Also, the approach of an open-minded, interested observer from my side, gave room. And because I chose a different angle, I also got other information to surface.

It really becomes a very personal portrait, not of a representative of an institution, but of a fellow human. Someone who has walked a different path in life. Made other choices, from a different base, beliefs.

While editing the footage I noticed that my interest laid with Benny’s motivation for choosing this way of life within this community.

Actually a very traditional community, in Real Life. I was wondering what ideas other lifestyles are based on. And what the basis is of online communities like Facebook and Twitter? How do we interact there? How aware are we as we build our communities and what togetherness lies at the root of them? Only our location? A common interest? Or shared worldview? And where do we build from this togetherness towards?

The Rule of Augustine (354-430), from which the community’s living in the Abbey of Postel is inspired, also fascinated me. 
This over 1500 year old Line has strict instructions on how to live in a community such as:

“The fact that you care more for the interest of the community than for your own interest, is one measure of your progress. Thus, in all the transient needs of the people concerned, something permanent and transcendental will reveal, that is, love.”

“Who has a public function should not seek his fortune in the power with which he can dominate, but the love with which he can serve.”

“Do not dress remarkably. Try not to appeal through your clothing, but by your attitude.”

Instructive. At the very least.

video: The Rule of Saint Augustine

The Rule of Saint Augustine [For HD video, click play, go to 360p and then click 720p or 1080p. For full screen video, click icon at the right]

[This blog post was first published @ November 29 2010 at the iamoneworld – phase one website]



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