Benedict’s Rule and Commentary 1

January 1, 2008


“LI S T E N carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20). Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience. To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, that He who has now deigned to count us among His children may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children, nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions, deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory.”


“LISTEN…”, for those who didn’t catch that let me repeat that very first word, that very significant, very Benedictine beginning of the Holy Rule given to us by our holy father St. Benedict.

“LISTEN…”. Have you ever listened to a conversation where two souls talked around each other, both discussing their own topic and neither giving a thought to what the other was actually saying? Not what St. Benedict means by “Listen…”! As we begin studying and praying over the Holy Rule once more let’s understand that “Listen” was not arbitrarily chosen by St. Benedict as the first word of the Rule.

A good listener was as rare a commodity in St. Benedict’s time as it is in today’s world. If we empty ourselves of our self importance and really work to climb the Ladder of Humility we will be able to listen to Almighty God in Himself and in His creation. Do not expect Him to shout at you. Do not expect to hear Him if your mind is filled with other things. Do not expect Him to give you signs that He is desperately trying to attract your attention. Oh yes, He is able to do any and all of these things but He usually doesn’t. No, for most of us He eagerly awaits us to deliberately place ourselves in His Presence and LISTEN to Him.

Benedictines are noted for their Hospitality and Gentleness but please note that being hospitable and gentle isn’t limited to our homes or businesses. Not finger bowls, string quartets and the best place at the table for guests.

Hospitality in the true Benedictine tradition also involves those souls with whom we come into contact with 24/7. The soul in front of us who doesn’t notice the red traffic light turn green; the soul standing next to us in line at the store, and most definitely those souls we engage in conversation. I find, in the vast majority of conversations that what I have to say isn’t really the most important, hilarious or informative pearl that the world has been waiting for after all! Listen to other souls as if some one’s life depended on it. That might actually be the case some day!

One of the Monks I admire most in this world has helped me to improve my listening by his example of how to really listen. If I make a comment, he will pause if he hasn’t understand exactly what I mean. Either he will ask for clarification or I will explain because that pause of his is very forceful and explicit yet gentle at the same time.

The world is full of very outstanding speakers. Excellent listeners are much more rare. Also, I’d like to stress something that today is not talked about in P.C. circles or Kumbaya groups but is found in the Holy Rule in many phrases. We *are* in combat with the Enemy! Please, don’t every forget that! We come into contact with real, concrete evil every day, every moment. So does every soul we meet. Many souls are in desperate need of our help or encouragement. Make an actual effort to leave a dab of Good Spiritual DNA on every soul you are blessed to meet each day.

I never use the phrase, “In the next life”, because I feel that eternity is not next but simply a continuation of our souls existence outside of the invention of time. God is in eternity and when we join Him after our death we will be where God is. The same Enemy and his minions that will be torturing poor souls in eternity are present right here and now! They try to make us less than God wants us to be every moment of our lives in this body.

Immersion in the Holy Rule can not only arm a soul to resist but, with Almighty God’s Mercy and Grace, enable and inspire us to combat evil around us in the gentle, hospitable, yet extremely effective Benedictine way! But we must be **FIRM** when dealing with evil. We must also be sure to separate the evil from the sinner (that is the category we must all claim as our own!) for we are instructed by the Holy Rule to treat *ALL* as Christ!

Also, please note the use of “weapons” of obedience, plural not singular. Obedience or Abandonment of Self Love and total commitment to the Divine Will/Design will provide many powerful weapons (Virtues) in the service of Almighty God and our brothers and sisters. Indeed, from Obedience to the Divine Will comes our Stability, Conversatio, Stability, and Humility. A strong arsenal indeed!

“To love is to labor, to detach and strip oneself for God’s sake, of all that is not God”. SJC

Love and Prayers…..michael…oblate

(Another Benedictine in the US that I’m in long distance conversation with – G)