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

July 25, 2016
Chapter 45
Mistakes in the Oratory

Should monastics make a mistake in a psalm, responsory, refrain or reading, they must make satisfaction there before all. If they do not use this occasion to humble themselves, they will be subjected to more severe punishment for failing to correct by humility the wrong committed through negligence. Youth, however, are to be whipped for such a fault.

"To know all of the Talmud is a great thing," the rabbis teach; "but to learn one virtue is greater." In Benedictine spirituality, two constants emerge clearly: first, community prayer is central to the life and second, whatever is done must be done well. To fail to prepare the prayer, then, to pray poorly and sloppily, to read the scripture to people who do not have books and to read it without care, without sense, without accuracy is to strike at the very core of the community life. It is a fault serious enough to undermine the spiritual life of the community. It is not to be endured.

"Those who pray without knowing what they pray," Maimon ben Joseph wrote, "do not pray." If anything, this chapter requires us to ask even to this day how it is that we can hear the scripture but never study it, pray prayers but never contemplate the universal implications of them, go through rituals but never immerse ourselves in their meaning. How is it that we too pray without thinking, pray carelessly, pray poorly or pray without thought?

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.