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The Rule of St. Benedict

The Rule of Benedict (RB) constitutes a basic guide for living the Christian life and continues to be followed by every Benedictine monastery and convent in the world today.  Just the idea that a guide for living could not only last 1500 years but continue to be followed by thousands of people makes its study valuable for monks and nuns as well as laypeople.

The Rule offers people a plan for living a balanced, simple, and prayerful life.  In it Benedict tells his monks and nuns that  ora et labor is their way (work and prayer), that the Divine Office is their work (opus dei) and the vows of  stability, conversion, and obedience are their commitments.  These vows have much to say to those of us not living in a monastery or convent: 

Stability refers to the importance of community and commitment in life. For a monk or nun it refers directly to a commitment to the monastery where they will live for the rest of their life.  While we all may not be a member of a monastic order, we can make our vow of stability to our families, to our faith communities, to our local and global communities, and to our fellow pilgrims along the journey of faith. The vow of stability also speaks to our current environmental crisis—for when we remain committed to the earth we learn how to be good stewards of that which God has given us.
Conversion is not confined to a one time experience. To a monk or nun, conversion of life reminds them that everything they do is from, for, and with God and that God converts us continually.  The vow tells the monastic they are to acknowledge that conversion and be open to it.  For those of us not in the monastery conversion is an ongoing process as well, one that helps us walk continually in the presence of God. In order to open our ears to God’s voice and our eyes to God’s presence among us, Benedict tells us we must keep our hearts and our minds open to the ways that God is moving us. When we block the transformation that God is working within us, then we are not living into the Benedictine Way. An open heart is one that allows balanced practices of prayer, work, study, hospitality, and renewal to illuminate the ways that God is working within us and within the world.
When Benedict wrote his Rule obedience meant what it said: the monk was to be obedient to the Abbot, the Rule, and the Gospels.  Obedience can be a heavy word for us today.  Yet a healthy, balanced view of obedience - as a way of cultivating a disciplined, intentional life that is yearning to be obedient to God - is a desire that many people in today’s world have and this makes the vow of obedience relevant. Obedience can entail a healthy sense of humility - thinking neither less nor more of yourself than who you are - and of respecting and following the guides, leaders, teachers, and fellow travelers who are guiding you on your path.
The Rule revolves around five practices: Prayer, Work, Study, Hospitality and Renewal.

Prayer can include community prayer as part of a faith community, praying the hours, meditation, extemporaneous prayer on a regular basis, or a regular reminder of God's presence in our lives through disciplined mindfulness.
Work can include the way we approach our places of employment, our conduct in these settings, our work in our faith communities, our work in our community organizations, and the work we do to contribute to our family life. Maintaining a right sense of work, and seeing the purpose behind our work as well as its right balance in our lives, can contribute much to our spiritual journey.
Study can include  using scripture, reading the Rule, reading wisdom writings, contemplating the wisdom of others, or taking classes in order to seek guidance on how God is moving in our intellectual lives.
Hospitality can include inviting the stranger into our lives as well as being hospitable to those who are already in our lives. Having a right approach to how we treat one another, and treating others as Christ, is key to creating a healthy sense of hospitality.
Renewal can include the discipline of keeping a sabbath, cultivating a hobby that reminds you of the presence of God, or taking time to notice beauty, love, and renewal in your daily life. Renewal is the time to remember that our lives are still centered on the Divine, and that God is the ultimate center of our Rule of Life.

Check this website regularly, especially the Home Page blog "St. Benedict for the Rest of Us" to see more information about the Rule, Benedictine life, and its applicability to those of us not called to the monastery.  And we encourage you to read the Rule.  To learn more about The Rule of St. Benedict and the Benedictine Order, visit the website of The Order of St. Benedict: