Monday, January 2, 2012

Make reading the Benedictine Rule daily a new year's resolution!

A Benedictine spiritual practice that you might want to consider adopting (or picking up again) is to read a section of the Rule of St Benedict each day.

St Benedict's Rule, probably written for his monastery of Monte Cassino before the death of the saint in 547, was originally primarily a legislative work, setting out the broad outlines for how a monastery should work for the benefit of novices.  But it has proved remarkably durable - adaptable to many times and places, and able to be used as a spiritual guide by religious, priests and laity alike.

Because St Benedict wanted the Rule to be read to novices three times before profession in full, it became the custom, maintained in many monasteries up to this day, to divide it up into daily sections so as to read it aloud in chapter (traditionally said immediately after Prime) three times a year.  Many oblates and others have likewise adopted this custom, and you can find an online edition of the Rule divided up for daily reading here (the website will send you a daily email if requested).

It is helpful to read it with a good commentary.  You can find links to Simon's Commentary for Oblates and Dom Delatte's classic commentary in the sidebar at the right.  But for something online, I'd suggest a read of that by Abbot Philip Lawrence of Christ in the Desert Monastery.  It is aimed at monks, and you may not agree with all of it, but it provides some very solid food for thought.

1 comment:

Br. Jerome Leo, OSB said...

I send out the daily readings, with a reflection on each directed to Oblates and the laity and prayer intentions, through an e mail list. Anyone interested can join the group by sending a totally blank e mail, no subject and no text to:

Blessings on all!
Br. Jerome Leo, OSB
St. Mary's Monastery
Petersham, MA USA