Daily Reading from the Rule of Benedict

Yesterday's Reading

About the Rule of Benedict

Benedict of Nursia was born in the year 480. As a student in Rome, he tired of the decadent culture around him and left to live a simple spiritual life as a hermit in the countryside of Subiaco about thirty miles outside of the city. It wasn't long, however, before he was discovered both by the people of the area and disciples who were themselves looking for a more meaningful way of life. Out of these associations sprang the monastic life that would eventually cover Europe.

The Rule of Benedict is not a treatise in systematic theology. Its logic is the logic of daily life lived in Christ and lived well. This early monastic rule is part of the Wisdom tradition of Christianity and is rooted in the Bible for its inspiration and its end. It deals with the meaning and purpose of life. The positions taken in the Rule in the light of themes in the wisdom literature of other culture find Benedict of Nursia in the stream of thinkers who lived out of a single tradition but from the perspective of universal and fundamental insights into life.

Excerpted from The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages by Joan Chittister, OSB

June 26, 2017
Chapter 19
The Discipline of Psalmody

We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and "that in every place the eyes of God are watching the good and the wicked (Prv 15:3)." But beyond the least doubt we should believe this to be especially true when we celebrate the divine office.

We must always remember, therefore, what the prophet says: "Serve the Holy One with reverence (Ps 2:11)," and again, "Sing praise wisely (Ps 47:8);" and, "in the presence of the angels I will sing to you (Ps 138:1)." Let us consider, then, how we ought to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.

"The unexamined life is not worth living," the philosopher Socrates said. Benedict implies the same. If indeed we walk in the womb of God, then reflection on the meaning of every action and the end of every road is the constant to which we are called. There must be no such thing as the idle decision, the thoughtless act. Every part of our lives must be taken to prayer and the scrutiny of scripture must be brought to every part of our lives because we believe "beyond the least doubt" that the God we seek is there seeking us.

Prayer in the Benedictine tradition, then, is not an exercise done for the sake of quantity or penance or the garnering of spiritual merit. Benedictine prayer is not an excursion into a prayer wheel spirituality where more is better and recitation is more important than meaning. Prayer, in the spirit of these chapters, if we "sing praise wisely," or well, or truly, becomes a furnace in which every act of our lives is submitted to the heat and purifying process of the smelter's fire so that our minds and our hearts, our ideas and our lives, come to be in sync, so that we are what we say we are, so that the prayers that pass our lips change our lives, so that God's presence becomes palpable to us. Prayer brings us to burn off the dross of what clings to our souls like mildew and sets us free for deeper, richer, truer lives in which we become what we seek.

The Rule of Benedict Insights for the Ages

Is there a great spiritual tradition that deals with the contemporary issues facing the human community? In her new introduction to the Rule, Joan Chittister boldly claims that Benedict’s sixth-century text is the only one of the great traditions that directly touches today’s issues: stewardship, conversion, communication, reflection, contemplation, humility and equality. Tracing Benedict’s original Rule paragraph by paragraph, the new book expands the principles of the Rule into the larger context of spiritual living in a secular world and makes the seemingly archaic instructions relevant for a contemporary audience. A new foreword, updated content, an appendix, a Gregorian Chant download and a recommended calendar for reading the entries and commentaries make this an invaluable resource for solitary or communal contemplation. (Crossroad; Paperback) Order here.