The Rule of Saint Benedict

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Gregory the Great sent missionary St.

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Augustine north towards England where he converted numerous Anglo-Saxons and Gauls along the way during the late 6th and early 7th centuries. In the 7th and 8th centuries St. Willibrord spread Christianity and the Benedictine way of life through Germany and throughout Scandinavia, even reaching Iceland. In the 8th and 9th centuries Charlemagne and later his son Louis the Pious were great proponents of St.

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Benedict's Rule and monastic vision. By the 10th and 11th centuries Benedictine monasticism was the dominant form of monastic life throughout all of Western Europe.

1-1.5: The Rule of St. Benedict

Though some reformations and differences in organization occurred after the early medieval period with a number of monasteries, the fundamental concepts of Benedictine monastic life remain the same. Benedictine monasticism spread out of Europe and elsewhere in the world many centuries later, arriving to North America in the mid 19th century, and to South America, Africa, China and the rest of Asia in the 20th century.

From Montecassino to the World.

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Prologue

Benedict wrote his Rule in the spoken and ordinary Latin of the day. It is not the classical Latin of antiquity nor the scholarly Latin taught in the remaining schools of his time, though occasionally his language is elegant and polished. As the Rule drifts from the classical language it also gives evidence of the breakdown of Latin into more common forms of speech what later became the Romance languages.

Benedict writes with crispness and directness; seldom is he profuse or homiletic.

The Rule of St. Benedict

Compared with the tradition and especially with the Rule of the Master , Benedict legislates for a monastic life that has rhythm, measure, and discretion. His monks are not overdriven by austerities in fasting and night vigils. They do not own anything personally, but they have enough to eat and to drink even wine when it is available and to clothe themselves. They work with their hands about six hours a day but they also have leisure for prayerful reading and common prayer.

Their sleep is sufficient and they may even take a siesta in summer if needed. The young, the sick, and the elderly are cared for with compassion and attention. The abbot, while he directs all aspects of the common life, must seek counsel from the monks; and the Rule makes provision for his limitations and failings.

In short, RB arranges for a monastic life in which the monks may seek God in prayer and reading , in silence and work , in service to guests and to one another.

Rule of St. Benedict

Benedict's Rule stands tall in the great tradition of Christian monasticism. It is a Christian rule in the sense that its spiritual doctrine picks up on the values of the Bible e.

RB is not written for monastic hermits, though Benedict has high regard for them; it is written for ordinary Christians who wish to immerse themselves in a pattern of living in which the life of Christ can be lived out with understanding and zeal. RB is still used today in many monasteries and convents around the world. The monastics of today do not follow it literally but still find in it much wisdom to live the common life. It still protects the individual and the community from arbitrariness on the part of the abbot or others; it still provides a way of living the Christian life.


Monastic communities accept it as their basic inspiration even as they mitigate it, supplement it, or adapt it to the living conditions of today. A Translation and Commentary by Terrence G. The first line-by-line exegesis of the entire Rule of Benedict written originally in English. This full commentary -- predominately a literary and historical criticism -- is based on and includes a new translation, and is accompanied by essays on Benedict's spiritual doctrine.

Print and e-book from Liturgical Press. Dated but thorough is C. His Message for Today. Each chapter concludes with a brief reflection on the state of contemporary society and how the aspect of the Rule of Benedict treated in the chapter applies to the needs of today.

Wisdom from the Monastery: Wisdom from the Monastery contains a contemporary translation of the Rule of St. Benedict and short reflections on the seven basic elements of Benedictine spirituality that are a tried and true recipe for healthy, balanced and purposeful living.