Click here for pdf of whole Rule: RB37

Between September and December 2018 the reflections on the Rule are Mary Cockroft who has been an oblate of Stanbrook for over 20 years. The reflections were first posted on this site in 2015 and re-appear now by popular request and lightly tweaked by Mary.
Scroll down below the booklist and introduction to find the reflections.
Comments are welcome via

Further Reading:
If you have enjoyed looking at words and patterns in the Rule you will probably benefit from Sr Aquinata Boeckmann's approach, eg in her Perspectives on the Rule of St Benedict (2005), pub. Collegeville.
Dom Hugh Gilbert's books: Unfolding the Mystery (2007) and Living the Mystery (2008) and The Tale of Quisquis, published since he has become a bishop.
Gregory Collins OSB: Meeting Christ in his Mysteries (2010) pub. Columba.
Maria Boulding OSB: Gateway to Resurrection (2010) pub. Continuum, is shot through with the Paschal dimension of Benedictine life.
Anything by Michael Casey OCSO!

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


April 13, August 13, December 13

For Oblates today this chapter essentially reminds us of what we reflected on yesterday in Chapter 58, our own Oblation. We made the offering of ourselves, in the context of the Offertory of the Mass. What do we give, in offering ourselves, to Our Lord? To our monastery? Is what I am able to offer today probably different from what I was able to offer when I originally made my Oblation? Can I talk to the Lord about the gifts and talents he has given me and how he would like me to use them in my current situation?

Daily at Mass I have the opportunity to offer, at the Offertory, all I am today, right now to Our Lord, for his service, for his world, for the tiny part of it in which I function. Forget the Big Picture and think micro. How can I, with the help of the God who loves me, use my God-given talents to bring peace and joy to those whose lives touch mine in any way today?




April 14, August 14, December 14

This chapter reminds me that everyone is of equal value, whatever their rôle or age or youth or official position. Whilst the smooth running of a family, a community, a workplace, a diocese may require a certain order, a clear allocation of jobs, everyone deserves respect as a child of God, whatever their worldly or ecclesiastical position may or may not be. Automatic respect for the elderly seems to have fallen by the wayside, along with deference for priests, teachers, doctors and the like, but maybe in our egalitarian society there is more respect nowadays for those in lowlier occupations. As Benedictines we should surely be known for our courtesy and consideration, a genuinely open welcome of the other in their otherness and a desire to see them and value them as God sees and values them.

The other thing that strikes me is whether we might have expectations, somewhere in our lives, of special treatment – because we are older, ill, disabled; are a guest in someone’s home – possibly in that of our relatives; because we have the qualifications we are very aware that others haven’t; because we are known to be an expert on something; because we are very used to having a front row seat and being sought out at gatherings by Important Persons.

If I have such expectations, then it would be good to reflect on Benedictine humility. (RB Chapter 7)






April 15, August 15, December 15

April 16, August 16, December 16

Each of us, I imagine, is at some point in our life a guest in the homes of others, even in monasteries (which are after all the home of a monastic community), and at some point we will also receive guests in our own homes. I do more of the former because my own home is so tiny, so I am very used to the particular problems of being a good, hopefully undemanding guest, basically capable of entertaining herself or making herself useful until something more exciting appears on the day’s plan. I always seem to end up in the home of a German friend during the apple harvest, and believe me she has a lot of apples, hundreds of which I have peeled, chopped up and turned into puddings.

What kind of guest are we, particularly if visiting our grown-up children? Are we hyper-critical? Do our faces express disapproval of the way things are being run, even if we are keeping our lips sealed? Does our daughter-in-law or son-in-law find us easy to have as visitors? How successfully have we made the transition from all-providing, all-controlling presider over Christmas festivities, to being a guest in the home of the younger generation? And of course, if we are that younger generation, have we ensured that the older generation does not feel marginalised? Do I welcome my in-laws as I welcome my own parents?

Do we need to look at how demanding we may be when staying in the homes of friends? Do we overstay our welcome? Do we take their hospitality for granted? How do I behave as a guest in a monastery?

Without causing offence, we can, as hosts, hardly ask our guests to depart, although heavy hints may, I suppose, occasionally be necessary. Keep visits short and sweet and clearly defined is possibly the answer, and choose your friends carefully!

Friends are a huge blessing in our lives. Talk to the Lord about all my friends, including my monastic friends, and pray for all of them regularly.