Click here for pdf of whole Rule: RB37

For the January-May 2017 reflections on the Rule we shall re-visit the very first set by Sr Laurentia, posted in 2014, with some slight variations around Easter time.
Just to remind you that the complete text of the Rule (RB37) as used on this website is available above or in the Scriptorium section of the website via the last drop-box in the list: RULE OF ST BENEDICT.

Please scroll down below introduction to find the reflections.

 Reflections on the Rule of St Benedict: Introduction

We wanted the Rule of St Benedict (RB) to pulse through the website as it does through our life, hence the decision that the daily portion of the Rule, read in most Benedictine monasteries and by many individuals, should feature on the Home Page. The version selected is that of Dom Justin McCann OSB published by the Stanbrook Abbey Press in 1937 and used here by kind permission of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust. There are several reasons for this choice: first of all, we feel it still reads as an elegant translation, then we wish to celebrate cooperation between the Ampleforth and Stanbrook communities over many years, and thirdly, perhaps the old-fashioned thees and thous can actually help us approach the Rule of St Benedict thoughtfully. For all its relevance, RB remains an ancient text which needs careful unpacking.

To accompany the extracts of the Rule we hope to post reflections, initially from members of the Stanbrook Community. These do not aim to be scholarly commentaries of which there are many excellent editions available. Rather, the reflections allow us to re-visit the Rule, to try to listen to its familiar voice anew, and to share thoughts via this forum.

Your comments are welcome via




30 April,

Chapter 72: Of the good zeal monks ought to have
It has been suggested that ‘zeal’ in this chapter might be better understood in its classical Greek sense of ‘jealousy’ or ‘rivalry’. Recall how the Master’s Rule ends with a competition over the abbatial succession. Instead, St Benedict wishes his monks to compete in showing honour to one another, in giving way to the other, citing Romans 12: 10 ‘let them outdo one another in showing honour’ which he also quoted in RB 63: 17, on community rank, and was implied in the previous chapter on mutual obedience. A few verses further into this present chapter, Benedict spells out what this means, namely, that no one is to pursue what he judges better for himself but rather what is better for the other person.
How different from the competitive spirit of the world!
In a few deft and beautifully balanced phrases, we are given a summary of the atmosphere the Rule aims to foster: a well ordered climate of mutually re-enforcing relationships with God, the abbot and the brethren. Thus the monastery already shines, albeit dimly, with the light of the eternal life towards which the monks are journeying. But it’s important to bear in mind RB 71. Such a state of community or family harmony is not obtained without much generous giving way to each other. Or as Abbot Gregory Collins OSB writes in his book Meeting Christ in his Mysteries, there can be no koinonia (communion/fellowship) without kenosis (self-emptying).
Have you noticed how in the last sentence the preferential option for Christ which we met in RB 4: 21 as a tool of good works for the individual monk has, by the end of the Rule, both intensified – ‘Let them prefer absolutely nothing to Christ’ and broadened ‘and may he bring us all together (pariter) to life everlasting’? This suggests both the communal nature of the eternal life of the Trinity to which we are called as well as something of the equality which marks the life of the Godhead. As John Donne has so inimitably written, heaven is the place where there shall be ‘one equal music’ (Sermon XV).
©Stanbrook Abbey 2017