Category Archives: Benedict’s Rule

Benedict’s Rule: Creativity

At first glance, it might seem that the vow of stability would produce stagnation.  But for Benedict, the exact opposite is the case.  It produces creativity.  Why is this? Simply because it is as we focus ourselves that our minds … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Perseverance

Stability also provides perseverance. Benedict defined perseverance as the outward expression of the fruit of the Spirit of patience.  A patient person, he wrote, can put up with unfavorable or even unjust conditions and embrace the suffering that comes unfairly … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: An End to “Spiritual Shopping”

Ask almost anyone in the church today, and they will tell you that one of the most disconcerting things is the tendency of folks to “church hop”—to move rather indiscriminately from one alleged “hot spot” to another.  Laity are not … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: The Aim of Stability

The reality which stability provides is aimed at only one thing:  steadfastness.  De Waal writes of this on pages 56-58. Without stability (reality), our faithfulness will be sorely tested.  We can find ourselves becoming cynical (e.g. “why didn’t anyone tell … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Spirituality is Reality (2)

The vow of stability provides a second major benefit:  it does not hide or delay the challenges that come with living an authentic spiritual life.  When the seeking brother was received into the community, he was “told all the hardships … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Spirituality is Reality (1)

We begin a look at stability, one of the foundational Benedictine vows—and one sorely needed today. De Wall explores it in Chapter 4. It is impossible to calculate the damage done by the “prosperity gospel” (which is no gospel).  Disillusioned, … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Freedom for What?

Ask any prisoners freed from jail and they will tell you that some of their most vulnerable days were immediately following their release.  They were “free,” but free for what? Similarly, we are a people who crave to be “free.”  … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: A Journey of Ascent

With the soul delivered from bondage to self-will, we are now free to ascend to God.  But how?  Benedict does not leave the question unanswered, but rather uses the image of a ladder to describe how we rise to God.  … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: A Life of Humility

The history of Christian spirituality teaches that the sign of love is humility.  John Wesley was once asked to name the mark of “perfect love,” and he responded, “humility.” Esther de Waal shows us how the Rule of Benedict points … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: A Way of Love

Esther de Waal brings us to the heart of the matter—the revelation that the Rule of Benedict is fundamentally a “way of love” (p. 44).  In Chapter 4:21 Benedict says it simply: “the love of Christ must come before all … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Sapiential Theology

Once again, we are walking back over some territory previously covered in this blog, but we’re doing it using fresh insights from Esther de Waal in Seeking God. Today, we’re back to the term sapiential theology.  It’s theology that is … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Listen! Then Do Something About It

Having laid the foundation of the centrality of Christ in his Rule, St. Benedict points to the primary means by which we establish his Lordship in our lives:  listening. If you’ve followed Oboedire for any length of time, you have … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: The Rule is Christ

It’s a fortunate thing to come to the final posting before Christmas—and before we take a brief break from posting at all—to hear de Waal say, “Christ is the beginning and the end of the Rule” (p. 34). This is … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Formative Environment

Spiritual formation occurs best when we let go of an “event” mentality and replace it with an “environment” mentality.  Programs and plans have their place—moments matter—but all the pieces must be seen against the backdrop of a larger atmosphere and … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Scriptural Foundation

The heightened awareness which we looked at last week is by no means some kind of spiritualized “stream of consciousness” in the Rule of Benedict.  We only have to open it and suddenly we find ourselves led into a world … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Heightened Awareness

I’ve always been intrigued by the question people ask Jesus at the end of the age, “When did we see you?”  It is a question asked by folks just like us—people who lived through the days of their lives without … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: A Hidden Way

Before we move beyond the notion  of ordinariness, we must connect it with the commitment to hiddenness. Taking Paul’s words in Colossians 3:3, “your life is hidden with Christ in God,” many of the early Christians sought ways to live … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Ordinary Holiness

One of the problems of history is that certain people seem to turn into what Thomas Merton called “plaster saints”—icons from the past that appear to have lived an extraordinary Christian life. Some have looked at The Rule of Benedict … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: A Signpost

When we understand that the Rule of Benedict is an invitation to live deeply in Christ, and when we find the motivation which comes from that invitation, we come to realize (as de Waal points out) that the Rule does … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Motivation

Esther de Waal notes that the invitation to set out on our journey with Christ comes to us as an arousal of our will, an awakening out of apathy (p. 28). Some have called it a sense of urgency, meaning … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Invitation

The most important thing for us to grasp at the beginning of our second journey through Benedict’s Rule is that it is an “invitation to life.”  We need to have this idea firmly in mind, because we can so easily … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Not Just For Monastics

One of the first things to get clear is that The Rule of St. Benedict is not just for monastics.  It began as an in-house manual for monks, nuns, and the eventual Benedictine Order (and other Orders too), but it … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Why All the Attention?

Wow!  It’s taken two months just to get through the Preface to Seeking God!  Before we launch into the main chapters of this excellent book, I want to take a “breath” and simply ask, “Why is the Rule of Benedict … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: The Life of Love

I am blessed to have had Dr. Thomas Carruth as a professor when I was in seminary.  I never imagined (in my wildest dreams) that I would come some years later to succeed him as Professor of Prayer and Spiritual … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Transforming Dispositions (3)

The third transforming disposition is obedience.  As de Waal points out, it is related to the disposition of listening.  But it is an active listening—that is, listening with the intention of enacting what is heard. If you’ve followed Oboedire for … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Transforming Dispositions (2)

The second foundational element in the Rule of St. Benedict is stability. In today’s incessant “new and improved” culture, it is a concept that’s all but lost.  But it is an essential disposition in the spiritual life.  Esther de Waal … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Transforming Dispositions (1)

When we look at The Rule of Benedict, or any other classical Rule of Life for that matter, it can easily look like pages-and-pages of regulations and details.  But that is to misunderstand the reason for a Rule in the … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Shaped by the Gospel

Esther de Waal uses the phrase “shaped by the Gospel” (p. 12) to describe the purpose of Benedict’s Rule—indeed, the purpose of any Rule of Life. This reminds us that a Rule is a means, not an end.  All kinds … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Everything From The Center

In her Preface, Esther de Waal also bring Benedict’s Rule into our lives today, showing how it is having a powerful influence upon the movement referred to as “the new monasticism.” In that regard, I want to recommend a brand-new … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Decisive Formation

Esther de Waal’s book is so well written, we don’t want to overlook any “pearl of great price” in its pages. Just as Kathleen Norris’ Foreword yielded valuable insights, we find additional gems in de Waal’s Preface. John Main’s assertion … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Seeking God

Today, we begin another journey through the Rule of St. Benedict.  But this time, we will explore key themes rather than moving sequentially through the chapters.  To do this, we will follow the outline given us by Esther de Waal … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Time Out Continues

Just a reminder that we’ll resume this weekly post on Friday, August 17, using Esther de Waal’s book Seeking God.  There’s still time to order a copy, so you can read along as we revisit The Rule using this classic … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Time Out Continued

We continue the “time out” for this Friday posting.  It returns on August 17th as we examine the Rule of St. Benedict, using insights from Ester de Waal’s book, Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict. You still have time … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Time Out

This post is on hold until August 17th, when we return to look at the Rule through the insights of Ester de Waal, in her book Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict. I hope you can have a copy … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Moving On To The Next Step

We have completed our exploration of the text of the Rule of Benedict.  As I have done this along with you, I have benefitted from the wisdom of this document over and over again.  I hope you have as well. … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Only the Beginning

The final chapter of the Rule seems amazing at first glance.  Benedict says that the Rule just read is “only the beginning.” This is the spirit of all true formation.  As Thomas Merton put it more recently—in matters of the … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Supportive Zeal

Chapter 72 continues the idea of mutual respect, as Benedict admonishes each member of the community to “try to be the first to show respect to the others” (Romans 12:10). Actions are determined on the basis of how they promote … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: The Way We Go To God

In Chapter 71, Benedict writes, “It is by this way of obedience that we go to God” (71:2).  He is referring to the obedience that everyone gives to everyone else in the monastery. No community can survive if it experiences … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Presumptive Action

Chapter 70 of the Rule is aimed to maintain order in the community.  No one is to step out of line and take matters into his own hands.  Rather, the concerned person is to take action only in ways that … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Care in Defending Others

Chapter 69 of the Rule seems odd at first glance, but as with other parts of the Rule, we find wisdom at work if we look more closely. Who would not want to come to the defense of another?  If … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Impossible Tasks

Chapter 68 of the Rule takes us to a very delicate, but important dimension of spiritual formation: dealing with “impossible” tasks. The word “impossible” may throw us off a bit.  Benedict is using it as the early response a monk … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Prayer-Saturated Travel

Chapter 67 reveals another dimension of life together among the monks.  When one or more of them are sent by the abbot on a journey, they are to be prayed for continuously until they return. This might be the place … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Front-Door Hospitality

Chapter 66 of the Rule reveals another important principle in the spiritual life:  first impressions set the tone for what follows.  Hence, the choice of a good porter (now often called a Guestmaster) is crucial. I found it interesting that … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Second-Tier Leaders

Chapter 65 of the Rule deals with the prior, what we would today call the “second in command” in a community.  Interestingly, there is more space spent to the problems of having such a leader than to the person’s actual … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: The Holiness of Leadership

Nothing affects the life of a community more than the person who is charged with leading it.  Perhaps that is why Chapter 64 of Benedict’s Rule is somewhat longer and more-detailed than some of the ones we’ve looked at previously. … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Rank Without Rancor

Benedict’s Rule (Chapter 63) seeks to establish some kind of differentiation without fostering rancor in the community.  The simplest way to do it was by date of entry into the community. Benedict wrote clearly, “The abbot is not to disturb … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Becoming a Priest

The way we go about ordaining people has changed over the centuries.  But one thing has not changed—the need to carefully discern and choose those who are to become priests. Chapter 62 of the Rule outlines this process.  It centers … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Visitation Privileges

Chapter 61 of the Rule takes the principle of humility in Chapter 60 and applies it to those who come to the monastery as visitors. Even those who come for a short time are to accept the “community life” that … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: No “Inside Track”

Chapter 60 of the Rule sets forth an essential element—namely, that no one comes to the community with any claim to superiority over anyone else. One of the tests of our commitment to Christ is whether we are willing to … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Preparing in Advance

Chapter 59 of Benedict’s Rule deals with the offering of sons and property to the monastery.  Because this practice is foreign to my Christian traditioning, I must look for an abiding principle within the specific practice. What I find here … Continue reading

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