The center of the Rule is the Ladder of Humility, found in Chapter 7. Like similar ladders proposed by St.
John Cassian and St. John Climacus, it gives us concrete indications of spiritual progress, while emphasizing that in Christian living, we paradoxically progress by humbling ourselves. The Rule is written for cenobites, that is, monks who live in communities. First of all, remember that every good work you undertake, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection, 5.
Because He has already included us as his sons, and therefore we should never grieve him by our evil actions. With his good gifts which he has given to us so that we may serve him so faithfully, we must obey him at all times that he may never become the angry father who disowns his sons, 7. Nor the Lord, enraged by our sins, who punishes us forever as worthless servants for refusing to follow Him to glory. Let us rise up then, at long last, for the Scriptures awakened us when they say: "It is high time for us to arise from sleep", 9.
And let us open our eyes to the divine light, and listen with attentive ears to the cautionary voice of God that every day tells us: Who has ears to listen, listen to what the Holy Spirit says to the Church. And what does it say? Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you. And because, among the crowd of men to whom this cry is addressed, the Lord is searching for his workers, the Lord again says: If you hearing this, you respond "I do," God then directs these words to you: And when you have done this, my eyes will be upon you, and my ears will be ready for your prayers, and even before you ask me, I will say to you: "Here I am.
What is sweeter, dear brothers, than this voice of the Lord calling to us? Here in his fatherly goodness the Lord shows us the way of life. Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see Him who has called us to His kingdom. If we wish to dwell in the home of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.
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Let us ask the Lord with the Prophet: "Who will dwell in your home, O Lord; who will find rest upon your holy mountain? After this question, brothers, let us listen well to what the Lord says in reply, for He shows us the way to Him, saying: He who speaks the truth from his heart and has not practiced deceit with his tongue; After hearing the various opinions of the brothers, he should consider all and then do what he thinks best.
The brothers should give advice with humility and not presume stubbornly to defend their views. They should leave the question to the abbot's resolution so that they may all obey that which he decides is best. But as disciples should obey a master, the master should arrange all matters with consideration and justice.
St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries
The first degree of humility is prompt obedience. This is necessary for all who think of Christ above all else. These souls, because of the holy servitude to which they have sworn themselves, whether through fear of Hell or expectation of eternity, hasten to obey any command of a superior as if it were a command of God. But this very obedience will be deemed acceptable to God and pleasant to men only when the commands are carried out without fear, laziness, hesitance or protest.
Rule of St Benedict
The obedience shown to superiors is, through them, shown to God, who said: "He who hears you, hears Me" Luke Orders should be carried out cheerfully, for "God loves a cheerful giver" 2 Corinthians 9. God will not be pleased by the monk who obeys grudgingly, not only murmuring in words but even in his heart. For even if he should fulfill the command, his performance would not be pleasing to God who listens to his complainings.
Work done in such a dispirited manner will go without reward; in fact, unless he makes amends, he will suffer the punishment meted out to gripers. Let us follow the prophet who says: "I have said: I will keep my ways so that I will not offend with my tongue. I have guarded my speech. I held my peace and humbled myself and was silent, even from speaking good things" Psalms Here the prophet demonstrates that if we are not to speak of good things, for the sake of silence, it is even more vital that we not speak of evil lest we sin, for we shall be punished for that as a sin.
No matter how perfect the disciple, nor how good and pious his speech, he rarely should be given permission to speak for: "In much speaking, you shall not escape sin" Proverbs The master should speak and teach, the disciple should quietly listen and learn. No matter what must be asked of a superior, it must be done with humility and reverent submission. We always condemn and ban all small talk and jokes; no disciple shall speak such things. Any time left over ought to be used by the brothers to practice psalms or for reading.
All the monks shall sleep in separate beds. All shall receive bedding, allotted by the abbot, appropriate to their environment. If possible they should all sleep in one room. However, if there are too many for this, they will be grouped in tens or twenties, a senior in charge of each group. Let a candle burn throughout the night. They will sleep in their robes, belted but with no knives, thus preventing injury in slumber. The monks then will always be prepared to rise at the signal and hurry to the Divine Office.
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But they must make haste with gravity and modesty. The younger brothers should not be next to each other. Rather their beds should be interspersed with those of their elders. When they arise for the Divine Office, they ought to encourage each other, for the sleepy make many excuses. The vice of private ownership must be uprooted from the monastery. No one, without the abbot's permission, shall dare give, receive or keep anything — not book, tablet or pen — nothing at all.
Monks have neither free will nor free body, but must receive all they need from the abbot. However, they may keep nothing unless permitted or given them by the abbot. All things are to be common to everyone for, "Neither did anyone say or think that anything whatever was his own" Acts 4.
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If anyone is found with a predilection for this terrible vice, he is to be scolded twice. If he does not reform, then he is to be punished. We do not mean by this that personal preference should play a part, but rather that individual weaknesses should be taken into account. He who has lesser need ought to thank God and not lament.
The Rule of Saint Benedict Reader’s Guide
He who has great need should show greater humility because of his weakness and not gloat over the allowance made him. Then everyone will be content. Under no circumstances should complaining be tolerated, no matter what the reason. Anyone found complaining should be subjected to most severe punishment.
Idleness is an enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should be occupied according to schedule in either manual labor or holy reading. These may be arranged as follows: from Easter to October, the brothers shall work at manual labor from Prime until the fourth hour. From then until the sixth hour they should read.
After dinner they should rest in bed in silence. However, should anyone desire to read, he should do so without disturbing his brothers. None should be chanted at about the middle of the eighth hour. Then everyone shall work as they must until Vespers. If conditions dictate that they labor in the fields harvesting , they should not be grieved for they are truly monks when they must live by manual labor, as did our fathers and the apostles.
Everything should be in moderation, though, for the sake of the timorous. Chapter If a brother is requested to do something difficult or impossible, he should, at first, accept the command meekly and obediently.