Rule of St. Benedict in English and Latin (side by side)
"Remarkable for its discretion and its clarity.” — St. Gregory the Great
It was 594 when Pope St. Gregory the Great — himself a Benedictine — wrote this tribute to the little book which had shaped his life, and stands today as one of the cornerstones of religious life.
St. Benedict — credited with saving Western Civilization through his monastery system — adopted a remarkably commonsense approach to growing in grace.
In part, St. Benedict was reacting to the extreme ascetical practices of the East where hermits starved themselves, went without sleep, and dressed in rags. Without minimizing the importance of that self-sacrifice, St. Benedict insisted that monks could not attend properly to their work and study, let alone their celebration of Mass and the Divine Office, if they were denied nutritious meals, ample rest, proper clothing — and daily structure.
The Benedictine historian, Dom David Knowles, wrote that in the Rule, St. Benedict created a new type of monastery, one that was “neither a penitentiary nor a school of ascetic mountaineering, but a family, a home for those seeking God.”
If Benedict was comparatively lenient about disciplining the body, he was adamant about the need to subdue the will. His Rule emphasizes:
• obedience • humility • fraternal charity •
These virtues, once acquired, root out pride. Then, to the standard vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, St. Benedict added the vow of stability, in which a monk promised to remain in his monastery until death (unless his superiors sent him elsewhere). By this fourth vow, Benedict made each monastery a brotherhood, a family, in which each member works for the good of the whole.
Furthermore, each member of the monastic family found in the Rule a standard against which he could measure his every action. By being moderate and flexible in day-to-day concerns, but uncompromising in spiritual matters, St. Benedict’s Rule has endured for 1,500 years as a living code, a guiding light that has shown untold numbers of religious men and women the path to holiness. No rectory, no religious house, and no Catholic family, should be without a copy of this seminal work.
Translated & Edited by - Abbot Justin McCann, O.S.B.
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