Archive for the ‘Monastic Rules’ Category


The Rule of Saint Albert

January 30, 2008


[1] Albert, called by God’s favour to be Patriarch of the Church of Jerusalem, bids health in the Lord and the blessing of the Holy Spirit to his beloved sons in Christ, B. and the other hermits living under obedience to him, who live near the spring on Mount Carmel.

[2] Many and varied are the ways in which our saintly forefathers laid down how everyone, whatever his station or the kind of religious observance he has chosen, should live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ – how, pure in heart and stout in conscience, he must be unswerving in the service of the Master.

[3] It is to me, however, that you have come for a rule of life in keeping with your avowed purpose, a rule you may hold fast to henceforward; and therefore:

[4] The first thing I require is for you to have a Prior, one of yourselves, who is to be chosen for the office by common consent, or that of the greater and maturer part of you. Each of the others must promise him obedience – of which, once promised, he must try to make his deeds the true reflection – and also chastity and the renunciation of ownership.

[5] If the Prior and the brothers see fit, you may have foundations in solitary places, or where you are given a site suitable and convenient for the observance proper to your Order.

[6] Next, each one of you is to have a separate cell, situated as the lie of the land you propose to occupy may dictate, and allotted by disposition of the Prior with the agreement of the other brothers, or the more mature among them.

[7] However, you are to eat whatever may have been given you in a common refectory, listening together meanwhile to a reading from Holy Scripture where that can be done without difficulty.

[8] None of the brothers is to occupy a cell other than that allotted to him, or to exchange cells with another, without leave of whoever is Prior at the time.

[9] The Prior’s cell should stand near the entrance to your property, so that he may be the first to meet those who approach, and whatever has to be done in consequence may all be carried out as he may decide and order.

[10] Each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Lord’s law day and night and keeping watch at his prayers unless attending to some other duty.

[11] Those who know how to say the canonical hours with those in orders should do so, in the way those holy forefathers of ours laid down, and according to the Church’s approved custom. Those who do not know the hours must say twenty-five ‘Our Fathers’ for the night office, except on Sundays and solemnities when that number is to be doubled so that the ‘Our Father’ is said fifty times; the same prayer must be said seven times in the morning in place of Lauds, and seven times too for each of the other hours, except for Vespers when it must be said fifteen times.

[12] None of the brothers must lay claim to anything as his own, but you are to possess everything in common; and each is to receive from the Prior – that is from the brother he appoints for the purpose – whatever befits his age and needs.

[13] You may have as many asses and mules as you need, however, and may keep a certain amount of livestock or poultry.

[14] An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among the cells, where, if it can be done without difficulty, you are to gather each morning to hear Mass.

[15] On Sundays too, or other days if necessary, you should discuss matters of discipline and your spiritual welfare; and on this occasion the indiscretions and failings of the brothers, if any be found at fault, should be lovingly corrected.

[16] You are to fast every day, except Sundays, from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter Day, unless bodily sickness or feebleness, or some other good reason, demand a dispensation from the fast; for necessity overrides every law.

[17] You are to abstain from meat, except as a remedy for sickness or feebleness. But as, when you are on a journey, you more often than not have to beg your way, outside your own houses you may eat foodstuffs that have been cooked with meat, so as to avoid giving trouble to your hosts. At sea, however, meat may be eaten.

[18] Since man’s life on earth is a time of trial, and all who would live devotedly in Christ must undergo persecution, and the devil your foe is on the prowl like a roaring lion looking for prey to devour, you must use every care to clothe yourselves in God’s armour so that you may be ready to withstand the enemy’s ambush. 

[19] Your loins are to be girt with chastity, your breast fortified by holy meditations, for as Scripture has it, holy meditation will save you. Put on holiness as your breastplate, and it will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbour as yourself. Faith must be your shield on all occasions, and with it you will be able to quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one: there can be no pleasing God without faith; and the victory lies in this – your faith. On your head set the helmet of salvation, and so be sure of deliverance by our only Saviour, who sets his own free from their sins. The sword of the spirit, the word of God, must abound in your mouths and hearts. Let all you do have the Lord’s word for accompaniment.

[20] You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defences of your souls. In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words. God made him preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations: with him as your teacher you cannot go astray. We lived among you, he said, labouring and weary, toiling night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you; not because we had no power to do otherwise but so as to give you, in your own selves, as an example you might imitate. For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either. For we have heard that there are certain restless idlers among you. We charge people of this kind, and implore them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they earn their own bread by silent toil. This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it.

[21] The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells us to work. As the Prophet also makes known to us: Silence is the way to foster holiness. Elsewhere he says: Your strength will lie in silence and hope. For this reason I lay down that you are to keep silence from after Compline until after Prime the next day. At other times, although you need not keep silence so strictly, be careful not to indulge in a great deal of talk, for as Scripture has it – and experience teaches us no less – Sin will not be wanting where there is much talk, and He who is careless in speech will come to harm; and elsewhere: The use of many words brings harm to the speaker’s soul. And our Lord says in the Gospel: Every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgment day. Make a balance then, each of you, to weigh his words in; keep a tight rein on your mouths, lest you should stumble and fall in speech, and your fall be irreparable and prove mortal. Like the Prophet, watch your step lest your tongue give offence, and employ every care in keeping silent, which is the way to foster holiness.

[22] You, brother B., and whoever may succeed you as Prior, must always keep in mind and put into practice what our Lord said in the Gospel: Whoever has a mind to become a leader among you must make yourself servant to the rest, and whichever of you would be first must become your bondsman. 

[23] You other brothers too, hold your Prior in humble reverence, your minds not on him but on Christ who has placed him over you, and who, to those who rule the Churches, addressed these words: Whoever pays you heed pays heed to me, and whoever treats you with dishonour dishonours me; if you remain so minded you will not be found guilty of contempt, but will merit life eternal as fit reward for your obedience.

[24] Here then are a few points I have written down to provide you with a standard of conduct to live up to; but our Lord, at his second coming, will reward anyone who does more than he is obliged to do. See that the bounds of common sense are not exceeded, however, for common sense is the guide of the virtues.


Rule of Benedict Verses 1 – 13

January 22, 2008


Prologue Section 1 Verses 1 – 13 Listen & Arise!

L I 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.

Let us arise, then, at last, for the Scripture stirs us up, saying, “Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep” (Rom. 18:11). Let us open our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with attentive ears the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us, “Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps. 94:8). And again, “Whoever has ears to hear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7). And what does He say? “Come, My children, listen to Me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Ps. 33:12). “Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you” (John 12:35).


Related Scripture

John 12: 35- 36 Run while you have the light

Ps 94 (95) Listen to his voice (Invitatory)

Ps 33 (34) I will teach you the fear of the Lord

Rom 13:11-14 Arise from sleep

Rev 2 & 3 What the spirit says to the churches


References to other resources

Norvene Vest – Preferring Christ pages 5 – 7

Esther de Vaal Seeking God Chapter 2

Eric Dean Saint – Benedict for the Laity pages 13 & 14

Will Derske The Rule of Benedict for Beginners pages 15 & 16


Initial thoughts of person/group

The first section of the prologue demand action – to listen, to pray, to obey & to act. All of the commentaries explain that in the original Latin the first word denotes a particular kind of listening, listening attentively. Benedict goes on to explain why we should listen (out of love for God) and that this itself should stir us to respond. An appropriate call for us as we look at renewing our community!

What you might do to consider this part of the Rule

Who do we listen to, why, and what response is expected from us? How does this compare to the call at the start of the prologue?

Look at ‘what the Spirit says to the churches’ – which of these are issues for us?

Every day – how do we listen to God? How do we ask Him to bring our work to perfection?

The last section, as much of the Rule, is a string of Biblical quotes strung together by a person who knew the Bible intimately. In ‘The Street bible’ Rob Lacey translates some of these as: ‘Wake up … it’s almost sunrise on the New day: the dew is settling nicely & I am your alarm clock. … If you’ve got a brain & a heart, work it out! What’s the Spirit saying to the JLM’s (churches)?’ How would you update this section of the prologue?


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)


The Holy Rule of Saint Augustine – Chapter 8

December 31, 2007



Observance of the Rule

48. The Lord grant you may joyfully observe all these things as lovers of spiritual beauty and fragrant with the good odour of Christ by the goodness of your life: not as slaves under the law but as free under grace.

49. Now, that you may see yourselves in this little book as in a mirror, and in order that nothing may be neglected through forgetfulness, it shall be read to you once a week. And where you find yourselves doing what has been written, give thanks to God the giver of all good things. But where anyone sees that he is wanting, let him repent for the past and take heed in the future, praying that his fault be forgiven and he be not led into temptation.



The Holy Rule of Saint Augustine – Chapter 7

December 31, 2007


The Manner of Commanding and Obeying

44. Obey your superior as a father, but especially the priest who takes care of you all. 45. In order that all these things will be observed, and if anything has been observed less faithfully, it will not be passed over carelessly but carefully amended and corrected. It shall be the special duty of the superior to refer such things as exceed his authority and ability to the priest who holds the greater authority among you.

46. Let the superior consider himself happy, not because of his power to rule, but for his opportunity to rule in charity. Let him hold a position of honor in your midst, but before God let him lie prostrate at your feet. He shall show himself in all things an example of good works. He shall restrain the restless, comfort the downhearted, care for the sick and be patient with all. Let him eagerly observe discipline but impose it with holy fear. And although both are necessary, he should seek to be loved rather than feared by you, always mindful that he shall have to render an account for you before God.

47. Be, therefore, the more obedient out of compassion not only for yourselves but also for him, because the higher his position among you, so much greater is the danger in which he lives.


The Holy Rule of Saint Augustine – Chapter 6

December 31, 2007



Asking Pardon and Forgiving Offenses

41. Let there be no quarrels among you, or if they arise, end them as soon as possible, lest your anger grow into hatred, making of a mote a beam, and render the soul guilty of murder. For thus you read: “He that hateth his brother is a murderer,” (John III,15). 42. Whoever has offended another by an invective, an evil wish, or slander should hasten to make amends as soon as possible; and he that has been offended should forgive without reproaches. But if both are guilty of offense, both must forgive each other. And this on account of your prayers which must be the better the more often you pray. He that is tempted to anger, yet hastens to ask forgiveness from him whom he has offended, is better than he that is slower in becoming angry, but is less readily disposed to ask pardon. He that refuses to forgive his brother may not hope for any fruits from his prayers. But he that never asks pardon, or does not ask from his heart, is in the monastery to no purpose, even though he is not expelled. Refrain therefore, from harsh words; but if such have come forth from your mouth, let it not be too much for you to offer the remedy just as you have caused the wound.

43. But when you are compelled to use harsh words by any necessity of curbing irregularities of discipline, you are not obliged to ask pardon of your subjects, lest by too great humility your authority be weakened with those who must obey. But forgiveness must be sought from the Lord of all who knows your kindness even toward those whom you have rebuked perhaps more than is just. However, not sensual but spiritual must your love for each other be.


The Holy Rule of Saint Augustine – Chapter 5

December 31, 2007



The Goods Needed in this Passing Life and Those Charged with Their Care

30. Your clothes shall be kept in one place under the charge of one or two or as many as may be required to care for them, lest they be spoiled by the moths. And as you are fed by one kitchen, so you shall be clothed from one wardrobe. If possible, it shall not be left to you to decide which garment, according to the requirement of the seasons, be assigned to you: whether you receive the same that you turned in or another which one of the brethren had worn; as long as no one is denied what he needs. But if contention and murmuring arise among you through someone’s complaint that he has received a poorer garment than he had worn before, and he resent not being clothed so well as someone else: then learn from this, how much you are still wanting in that inner garment of the soul, quarrelling as you do about the clothing of the body. But if consideration is shown to your weakness, and you are given the same garment which you had laid off, you must still keep in one place under the charge of those appointed whatever clothing you put off.

31. Let no one do anything for himself. All things should be done for the community with greater attention and ready cheerfulness than if each one were working for himself. Charity of which it is written that it seeks not its own, is thus to be understood: that it puts the common good before private advantage, not private advantage before the common good. Know, therefore, that your progress is the greater, the more you are intent on the common good instead of your own. Let charity which abides forever, reign supreme in all things required by the passing needs of this life.

32. Hence, if anyone brings to his children or relative in the monastery clothing or any other useful object, this must not be received secretly but must be handed to the superior, that it may be made common property and given to him who needs it. He that conceals a gift shall be condemned as guilty of theft.

33. The cleaning and conditioning of your garments may be done in the monastery or in professional laundries. But the question of propriety as to the neat appearance of your clothing shall be decided by your superior, lest an inordinate desire for elegant attire cause interior defilement of your soul.

34. Neither shall the body be denied the proper hygienic care according to the requirements of good health. Let the directions of the physician be carried out without objections. If anyone refuses to comply he must, upon the command of the superior, do what is necessary for his health. If he should desire what is perhaps not good, his wish shall not be fulfilled. For also harmful things are sometimes believed to be good because they are pleasant.

35. In the case of an ailment which does not externally appear, the complaint of the Servant of God should be believed without mistrust. But if it is not certain that the remedy he desires is helpful, the physician shall be consulted.

36. In going to the public-health baths or wherever it may be necessary to go, no fewer than two or three should go together. And he that is required to go somewhere must go with those whom the superior appoints.

37. The care of the sick and convalescent or those suffering from any weakness of health, even without fever, must be assigned to one who shall request from the dispensary whatever he deems necessary for each one.

38. Let those who are in charge of the kitchen, clothing or books serve their brethren without grumbling.

39. The books should be asked for at a certain hour each day. He who ask for them outside this hour shall not receive them.

40. But clothing and shoes must be given to those who need them without delay by those in charge.