Monday, February 4, 2008

The Rule of St. Benedict

So after attending the "Monk Habits" lecture, I decided I should read the Rule of St. Benedict. I already had a copy, I got it for Christmas a couple of years ago. It's one of the many books in the pile of "read me soon" books that sits by my bed. I have the Vintage Spiritual Classics edition. I really like the Vintage Spiritual Classics series. They do a great job of presented the texts, and the covers are nice as well. The text of the rule was originally in Latin, the translation presented in this text is known as RB1980 which was translated by Timothy Fry.

The rule is not very long. In my copy the text of the rule takes 63 pages. The most interesting (and relevant) part of the rule is the first seven chapters. These chapters talk about the qualifications of the abbot, how a monk should go about his business, obedience, restraint in speech, humility etc. There is really great stuff in here! You can read the text here if you don't have a printed copy available to you.

Here's a great example of the kind of stuff in the rule: "Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when somebody needs your love. Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue."

I can't see anything there that requires you to be monk to benefit! Beyond the first seven chapters, there are very interesting things to be gleaned from the rule. The psalms are the heart of the monastic life, prayer the chief concern. The rule provides for spiritual guidance as well as how a group of men will get along living together every day.

On the whole I think the rule is fantastic. I have no desire to be a monk, I'd much rather be married :-) But I think we can learn from the rule and from the life of the monastics. I don't know that I would recommend you run out and buy the book, I'd say read the text online and see if you want to own a copy first.


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