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

September 27, 2021
Chapter 7

The prophet indicates this to us, showing that our thoughts are always present to God, saying: "God searches hearts and minds (Ps 7:10);" and again: "The Holy One knows our thoughts (Ps 94:11);" likewise, "From afar you know my thoughts (Ps 139:3);" and, "My thoughts shall give you praise (Ps 76:11)." That we may take care to avoid sinful thoughts, we must always say to ourselves: "I shall be blameless in God's sight if I guard myself from my own wickedness (Ps 18:24)."

Benedict, whose whole way of life is steeped in the psalms, relies heavily on the psalms here to prove God's probing presence to the individual soul. God, Benedict says quite clearly, is within us to be realized, not outside of us to be stumbled upon. It is not a game of hide and seek we play in the spiritual life. It is simply a matter of opening our eyes to the light which drives out the darkness within us.

"How does a person seek union with God?" the seeker asked.

"The harder you seek," the teacher said, "the more distance you create between God and you."

"So what does one do about the distance?"

"Understand that it isn't there," the teacher said.

"Does that mean that God and I are one?" the seeker said.

"Not one. Not two."

"How is that possible?" the seeker asked.

"The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and his song.--Not one. Not two."

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.