St. Placid and the Lesson of the Lake

St. Placid and the Lesson of the Lake

On January 15 we celebrate the memorial of Saints Maurus and Placid, disciples of St. Benedict. Our Fr. Placid comments on an event of his patron that is recorded in the Life of St. Benedict, written by St. Gregory the Great: the episode of St. Placid’s miraculous rescue from being drowned in a lake.

The text of this incident can be found at: https://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-09.html#P67_24865

“At the time of the story Placid is a boy and Maurus is a teenager. The story of Placid falling into the lake and being saved by Maurus at the command of Saint Benedict is an interesting one. In his telling Saint Gregory the Great makes it into a feat of humility in the end, but there is deeper message. Impetuosity does not help carrying out a job under obedience. It seems clear from the story (to me) that Placid drew more water than he could carry. Then he falls into the lake.

Monastic Life needs discernment to be aware of one’s strengths, weaknesses, failings and abilities. Humility addresses all these, but also there is something more. Placid said he saw the hand of the abbot taking him out of the water. So while Maurus physically did the job, the intention was all Benedict. Without the abbot’s help, discernment can be one-sided and ultimately self-defeating. To have some advice or guidance aids growth and prevents “falling into a lake”.

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