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

August 4, 2015
Chapter 50
Members Working at A Distance or Traveling

Members who work so far away that they cannot return to the oratory at the proper time--and the prioress or abbot determines that is the case--are to perform the Opus Dei where they are, and kneel out of reverence for God.

So too, those who have been sent on a journey are not to omit the prescribed hours but to observe them as best they can, not neglecting their measure of service.

The Sanskrit writes: Necessity changes a course but never a goal. Benedictine spirituality--flexible, sensible, realistic at all times--sets loud, clear goals but models a number of ways to achieve them. Perhaps there is no surer proof of Benedict's awareness that spirituality is neither a formula nor a straightjacket than this particular chapter. Benedict values nothing more than community prayer, the Opus Dei. In other chapters he organizes it minutely and schedules it for seven times a day. "Nothing," he writes "is to be preferred to the Work of God." And yet, when the ideal is confronted by the real, Benedict opts for the sanctification of the real rather than the idealization of the holy. If there is work to be done at a great distance from the chapel, the monastic is to see that it's done. Holiness is not an excuse to avoid responsibility. Spirituality is not an escape from life. Spirituality leavens life. Spirituality is what stabilizes us in the middle of confusion and gives us energy to go on doing what must be done even when the rest of life taxes and fatigues and separates us from our own resources.

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.