Reflections on the Rule of St Benedict: Introduction
(please scroll down for daily reflections)

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 of Ampleforth published by the Stanbrook Abbey Press in 1937 and used 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 regular reflections, from members of the Stanbrook Community and Stanbrook Oblates. 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

Click here for pdf of whole Rule: RB37

'The Way of Benedict: Eight Blessings for Lent' by Laurentia Johns OSB was published by SPCK on 19 December.

We hope to post more reflections in May, meanwhile, here is the text of a reflection given to the Stanbrook community by Abbess Anna Brenna on 21 March 2020

Abbess Anna Brennan reflects on the life of St Benedict in the light of the current crisis

When Benedict says that a monk’s life should be a continuous Lent, he probably didn’t mean it should be a Lent like this. When he said we should add to our measure of service by abstinence from some food and drink, he couldn’t have envisaged a Lent without celebrating the Eucharist. And this fast may go on far longer than Lent. These days without Mass are fasting indeed - unimaginable.

But it is how things are and it what the Lord permits to happen, and Benedict would want us to embrace what the Church asks and expects of us.

It is probably no accident, then, that this period of extreme fasting (without Mass) starts on the feast of St Benedict. As Benedictines, we should search the meaning of this.

Benedict was a man of peace, a man of prayer, a man of obedience – to God and to his brothers in community. He surrendered in everything to the will of God.

He was a man who loved his community and who saw his community as his way to God, offered to him so that he could love and serve them. God loves us without end and without condition. In the monastery, a school, we learn to love as God loves – and it is our sisters in community who teach us this.

Benedict was a man of praise – he praised God continuously in the Work of God. The Work of God, the Liturgy of the Hours, now is our primary liturgy. It is praise; it is thanksgiving; it is joy.

Benedict was man of the Word, the Word of God. He met the Lord every day in his Word – he listened; he loved, he obeyed.

He was a man of desire, of passionate yearning for God, who found delight in the voice of the Lord calling him continuously, daily, to love and to the way of life. Obedience to this call, Benedict knows, leads a heart overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.

A monk was asked by another monk recently, in rather desperate tones, ‘Father, what are we going to do with all this time in isolation?’ Non-plussed, the first monk looked at him hard (is this reminiscent of Jesus looking hard at the rich young man in the Gospel?)  and said, ‘Father, you can be a Benedictine monk.’

Despite this current privation, starved of Mass and in considerable isolation, we have an opportunity – to rediscover in a new way and at greater depth, the treasure Benedict - and many others - set his heart on and gave his life to.

Address to the Stanbrook Community, 21 March 2020