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What is the Rule of St. Benedict?

The Rule of Benedict is an ancient document stemming from the 6th century. In a Prologue and 73 chapters, it takes us on a journey of discovering deep echoes of wisdom, faith and trust. For instance, St. Benedict gives guidance on how to live a life with Christ as the center. He calls us to be aware that “…the divine presence is everywhere…” (RB 19.1). Benedict invites an all-embracing stance of attentiveness that is also expressed in the verb “listen” with which he begins the Rule. Listen attentively to everyday experiences, the daily grind, as they are the opportunities to perceive Christ. The nitty gritty calls forth hospitality: Receiving everything and everybody as Christ.

Since this Rule is not just for those living in monasteries, many people from all different ways of life are inspired by Benedict’s notion that Prayer and Community are important opportunities to glorify and meet Christ. Benedict wants the community to immerse themselves in Scriptures by praying the psalms together and listening to biblical readings several times a day. The daily is permeated and accompanied by prayer and the community gradually hones its ability to view everything through the lens of Scriptures.

The Rule introduces some “characters” to us like the abbot/prioress, the porter, the cellarer. These are role models exemplifying how we can embody aspects of Christ. Be hospitable to Christ in all his different appearances and manifestations in our lives, the Rule invites. This is also the invitation to be transformed way beyond our imagining. May we all walk this journey that Benedict lays out for us. His deep-felt wish and blessing was, “Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life” (RB 73.11-12).

Books on the Rule:







The Rule of Benedict: Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister, OSB How to Live by Judith Valente, Oblate Seeking God, The Way of St. Benedict by Esther De Waal Benedict's Rule: A Translation and Commentary by Terrence Kardong, OSB Preferring Christ: A Devotional Commentary on the Rule of Saint Benedict by Norvene Vest Listen With Your Heart: Spiritual Living with the Rule of St. Benedict by Basil Pennington, OSCO