Today we celebrate the life Saint Romuald, I lift up his memory for one reason in particular, and that is this:
The man was a realist and he encouraged a sense of realism among his followers.
He was an outspoken critic of the way the lives of the saints were written about and disseminated, he could not tolerate the popular tradition of the hagiography, replete with their embellishments, miracle stories which he flatly called out for the lies that they were.
His criticism of the tradition merits our respect.
Romuald was a member of an aristocratic family, he lived between the mid tenth and early eleventh century CE. He was the founder of the Camaldolese order, in the Benedictine tradition.
He had a wild youth and was said to have given himself over to the sins of the flesh, but later he became credited for breathing new life into eremitical and aesthetic monasticism.
He became a hermit.
He is said to have founded and or reformed many monastic institutions, though not all of his work was successful.
Through the promulgation of his rule he encouraged monks under his care to lead solitary lives, engaged in mediation and the interior reflection on the self. He was interested in the process of a person’s inner thoughts. He encouraged his followers to watch and be mindful of their thoughts as if they were watching fish in a stream.
In this way he was like a Zen master.
Romuald was heavily influenced by the Orthodox practice of hesychasm, which has also been associated with quietism, both of which highlight the long standing practice of deep mediation in the Christian tradition, which puts it his teaching on par with the practices of Buddhist monks in the Himalayas and Japan.
Tell no lies about him, he was an ordinary man.