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St. Benedict and the Holy Rule

Summary of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict

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SUMMARY OF THE HOLY RULE

 

         Chapter 1 defined the four kinds of monks: (1) Cenobites,   the monastic, who live under a rule and an Abbot.; (2) Anchorites, or hermits, those who, after long successful training in a monastery, are now coping single-handedly, with only God for their help; (3) Sarabites, who have been tried by no rule under the hand of a masterliving ; and (4) Landlopers, who keep going their whole life long from one province to another

        Chapter 2 describes the necessary qualifications of an abbot

        Chapter 3 ordains the calling of the brethren to council upon all affairs of importance to the community.

        Chapter 4 gives a list of seventy-four "tools for good work"/"tools of the spiritual craft" that are to be used in the "workshop" that is "the enclosure of the monastery and the stability in the community".these are the instruments of the spiritual art

        Chapter 5 prescribes prompt, ungrudging, and absolute obedience to the superior in all things lawful, "unhesitating obedience" being called the first degree, or step, of humility.

        Chapter 6 deals with silence.

        Chapter 7 treats of humility, which virtue is divided into twelve degrees or steps in the ladder that leads to heaven. They are:  fear of God;  repression of self-will; submission of the will to superiors for the love of God; obedience in difficult, contrary or even unjust conditions; confession of sinful thoughts and secret wrong-doings; contentment with the lowest and most menial treatment and acknowledgment of being "a poor and worthless workman" in the given task; honest acknowledgement of one's inferiority to all others; being guided only by the monastery's common rule and the example of the superiors; speaking only when asked a question; stifling ready laughter;  seriousness, modesty, brevity and reasonableness in speech and a calm voice;  outward manifestation of the interior humility.

        Chapters 9-19 are occupied with the regulation of the Divine Office, the opus Dei to which "nothing is to be preferred", namely the canonical hours, seven of the day and one of the night. Detailed arrangements are made as to the number of Psalms, etc., to be recited in winter and summer, on Sundays, weekdays, Holy Days, and at other times.

        Chapter 19 describes the manner of reciting the psalter

        Chapter 20 directs that prayer be made with heartfelt compunction rather than many words, and prolonged only under the inspiration of divine grace, but in community always short and terminated at the sign given by the superior.

        Chapter 21 provides for the appointment of Deans

        Chapter 22 regulates all matters relating to the dormitory,

        Chapter 23-29 deals with disobedience and other grave faults for which a graduated scale of punishments is provided

        Chapter 30 directs that if a wayward brother leaves the monastery, he must be received again, if he promises to make amends; but if he leaves again, and again, after the third time all return is finally barred.

        Chapter 31 and 32 order the appointment of a cellarer and other officials, to take charge of the various goods of the monastery

        Chapter 33 forbids the private possession of anything without the leave of the abbot.

        Chapter 34 prescribes a just distribution of such things.

        Chapter 35 arranges for the service in the kitchen by all monks in turn.

        Chapter 36 and 37 order due care for the sick, the old, and the young. They are to have certain dispensations from the strict Rule, chiefly in the matter of food.

        Chapter 38 prescribes reading aloud during meals, which duty is to be performed by such of the brethren, week by week, as can do so with edification to the rest.

        Chapter 39 and 40 regulate the quantity and quality of the food. Chapter 41 prescribes the hours of the meals, which are to vary according to the time of year.

        Chapter 42 enjoins the reading of the "Conferences" of Cassian or some other edifying book in the evening before Compline and orders that after Compline the strictest silence shall be observed until the following morning.

        Chapters 43-46 relate to minor faults, such as coming late to prayer or meals, and impose various penalties for such transgressions.

        Chapter 47 enjoins on the abbot the duty of calling the brethren to the "world of God" in choir, and of appointing those who are to chant or read.

        Chapter 48 emphasizes the importance of manual labour and arranges time to be devoted to it daily.

        Chapter 49 treats of the observance of Lent.

        Chapters 50 and 51 contain rules for monks who are working in the fields or traveling.

        Chapter 52 commands that the oratory be used for purposes of devotion only.

        Chapter 53 is concerned with the treatment of guests, who are to be received "as Christ Himself".

        Chapter 54 forbids the monks to receive letters or gifts without the abbot's leave.

        Chapter 55 regulates the clothing of the monks.

        Chapter 56 directs that the abbot shall take his meals with the guests.

        Chapter 57 enjoins humility on the craftsmen of the monastery, and if their work is for sale, it shall be rather below than above the current trade price.

        Chapter 58 lays down rules for the admission of new members, which is not to be made too easy.

        Chapter 59 allows the admission of boys to the monastery.

        Chapter 60 regulates the position of priests who may desire to join the community.

        Chapter 61 provides for the reception of strange monks as guests, and for their admission if desirous of joining the community.

        Chapter 62 lays down that precedence in the community shall be determined by the date of admission, merit of life, or the appointment of the abbot.

        Chapter 64 orders that the abbot be elected by his monks and that he be chosen for his charity, zeal, and discretion.

        Chapter 65 allows the appointment of a prior.

        Chapter 66 provides for the appointment of a porter.

        Chapter 67 gives instruction as to the behavior of a monk who is sent on a journey.

        Chapter 68 orders that all shall cheerfully attempt to do whatever is commanded them, however hard it may seem.

        Chapter 69 forbids the monks from defending one another.

        Chapter 70 prohibits them from striking one another.

        Chapter 71 encourages the brethren to be obedient not only to the abbot and his officials, but also to one another.

        Chapter 72 is a brief exhortation to zeal and fraternal charity

        Chapter 73 is an epilogue declaring that this Rule is not offered as an ideal of perfection, but merely as a means towards godliness and is intended chiefly for beginners in the spiritual life.