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Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library #6

The Rule of St. Benedict in English

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For fifteen centuries Benedictine monasticism has been governed by a Rule that is at once strong enough to instill order and yet flexible enough to have relevance fifteen-hundred years later. This pocket-sized, English-only edition is perfect for individual or group study.

96 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 530

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Timothy Fry

3 books

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 415 reviews
Profile Image for Stephen.
56 reviews40 followers
August 11, 2009
If you read this for entertainment you will be sorely disappointed. If you read this as a guide to life, and you are not a monk, you will be sorely disappointed. If you read this with an eye toward how one might live a more calm and disciplined life, adjusting what was written in to Sixth century, to the present day, you might just find what you are looking for.
Profile Image for Bryce Wilson.
Author 10 books154 followers
May 7, 2008
I've often thought that the monastic order is the high-point of my religion. No power, no ambition, just simple and just service to God and man.

Therefore I thought I'd read the beginning of that order. My sympathies are much more in align with the Franciscans then the Benedictions which is to put it gently, a little harsh. A surprisingly large amount of the book deals with Benedict's disdain for laughter and or grumbling.

Alot of this slight volume is simply not very useful to the layman, unless you desperately want to know how you should perform you're cooking duties and sleeping arrangements should a monastery happen to visit you.

Still this book is the foundation for an order and way of life that I have nothing but the utmost respect for. And if more Christians (myself of course included) followed the wisdom of lines such as, "keep your tongue free from vicious talk, and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and your aim." I firmly believe that both the world and the church would be in much better standing.
Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 22 books2,025 followers
September 4, 2019
I read this along with Esther de Waal's Seeking God for the Schole Sisters book club I led. It turned out to be a much more enjoyable read than I anticipated and it is now my new favorite book on authority and parenting with its gentle, stable, and realistic approach to life. I think this would be a great book to read in Morning Time.
Profile Image for Quirkyreader.
1,514 reviews41 followers
January 20, 2020
This is a set of rules that St. Benedict came up with for cloistered orders. Much of it holds true today and should be used in non cloistered life as well.

The key word in this writing was Humility.
Profile Image for J. Aleksandr Wootton.
Author 8 books134 followers
December 18, 2021
Monasticism is widely misunderstood, one of those subjects on which otherwise well-informed people feel comfortable delivering very decided opinions which turn out, on examination, to have been based on flawed assumptions and stereotypes. It helps to go back to the source.

Benedict did not quite start the movement, but he did popularize it. His Rule (I was surprised to learn) is a gentler, more tolerant, more humane update of previous experiments in asceticism and purposeful communal living. As a book, the Rule is essentially reference material or curio collection-piece, about as good for casual reading as a book of etiquette. Interesting and occasionally useful.
Profile Image for Katie.
439 reviews265 followers
February 6, 2013
One of my favorite things about the Rule of St. Benedict is how kind it is. I think that the popular perception of medieval monks is still filled with hair shirts and flagellation, or, at best, an authoritarian abbot lording over servile monks. Those things aren't made up and they certainly had their place in a medieval monastery. But Benedict's writing gives a much better idea of what it was actually like most of the time - a rather difficult life, and a daunting lack of privacy, but overall a life that was deeply communal and by medieval standards, deeply productive. The basic thesis underlying the whole thing is that it's easier to get closer to God when you're surrounded by people to help you, and who are aiming for the same thing. Of course, there's still a big cultural gap - laughter is generally frowned upon and the heavy emphasis on absolute obedience will be distasteful to some people. But on the whole, the Rule is not looking to punish people, or to force them into unthinking servility. It is a "little rule for beginners" that on the whole is very flexible and compassionate.

It's also fun to read because there are all kinds of interesting historical bits - why was Benedict's Rule the one that has been in use for almost 1500 years and the one that dominated the first 500 or so years of monasticism? Why is militaristic language so prevalent? Why/how was Benedictine monasticism, despite some similarities, different from the monasticism that grew up in the East and in the British Isles?

Not the most action-packed of reads, but it offers a nice little window onto how spirituality in the 6th century was at the same time hugely different from today, but at the same time, somewhat similar in its ultimate cares and aims. And it's an absolute must for anyone interested in the history of monasticism.

Edit: At one point, the Rule states that monks should all sleep in the same room, partially in order to encourage each other upon waking. "For," as Benedict writes, "the sleepy like to make excuses." This may be my life motto.
Profile Image for Carsten Thomsen.
156 reviews12 followers
October 15, 2011
My planned reading of spiritual classics have been quite slow. But here's one that I can recommend. These Rules have greatly influenced monasteries around the world until this day.

They begin with some general reflections on piety that all Christians can benefit from - then he goes on with more specific rules for the monks. There's a spirit here of love and humility and grace - but a lot of the Rules do seem very strict (specially on not talking and not laughing).

OK, there are also some funny Rules. Here's some with my comments:

* They sleep clothed, and girded with belts of cords; but they should remove their knives lest they accidentally cut themselves in their sleep . How considerate Benedict.

* Each will hasten to arrive at the Work of God before the others, yet with all dignity and decorum. He, he...how fast can you go with decorum intact. May the best man win.

* Without an order from the abbot, no one may presume to give, receive or retain anything as his own, nothing at all - not a book, writing tablets or stylus. No tablets? Oh no. I have to give up my iPad? I knew I was not cut out for this monkish business.

* We believe that half a bottle of wine a day is sufficient for each. I reconsider. Do let me be a monk.

* If anyone does not come to the table before the verse....his portion of wine should be taken away... That should do it!!.
Profile Image for Eye of Sauron.
389 reviews37 followers
November 10, 2019
You might think me strange, but I've always found monastic life appealing. Liberated from material worries, the unraveling catastrophe of popular culture, and really bad pop music, and free to spend all day in contemplation and prayer.

Yes, I know that's an odd worldview for a virtually reincarnated Lord of Evil, but let's just say I've seen the Light.

St. Benedict's Rule has been the foundation for monasteries for centuries, and it's a wonderful set of rules to ensure that the material world does not get in the way of Christian devotion. Sometimes some of the rules seem a bit harsh and/or extraneous, but it's important to remember that this is not a guide to holiness or a manual for spiritual ascendance; it's just a set of rules to ensure that one's environment is best suited for such work.

Certainly not an entertaining read, and not one I would recommend to any non-Christians except as a historical exercise. For the Christian, however, it's an edifying reminder of the sacrificial nature of the devotion to which man is called.
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,360 reviews50 followers
July 21, 2020
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I'm nearing the end of the Little Black Classics collection and The Rule of Benedict was next up.

Ever wondered what rules you would have to follow as a medieval monk?
- Me neither.

Part of this book is which prayers need to be said by whom at what hour on what day during which period of the year. This would maybe be interesting for people very much into this topic, but I got very little from it. Some more general parts on how one should live where slightly more captivating but contained also quite some repetition.

This was not really for me.

~Little Black Classics #122~
Profile Image for Bob.
1,857 reviews621 followers
November 9, 2013
For most of us to read this work is to enter another world. Not only is this written in the 6th century AD but it is written about a kind of experience, the truly monastic life, that few of us will experience, much less understand. So what is the worth of this work?

First of all, the choice of a monastic life is the choice to pursue a greater love of God and holiness of life through poverty, simplicity, submission, and stability in a community. For those who don't choose monastic communities, it seems there is much we can still learn from Benedict, if we are willing to accept the challenge implicit in the "rule" he develops.

Benedict covers all matters of life in the monastery from the qualifications of the abbot to entering the monastery to the ordering of Psalms used in the prayers of the hours to times for meals, amounts of food and drink, the care of the sick, the treatment of guests and even the qualifications of the porter and the cellarer (the person responsible for keeping the monastery in food and drink).

Perhaps most challenging are some of the rules pertaining to excommunication. It seems on first reading harsh, because one can be excommunicated for even minor faults. Reading more carefully, it is evident that much of this has to do with resistance to the authority necessary to sustain such a community. There also are clear provisions for the abbot to work with the excommunicate to restore him and specific steps to restoration. What all this speaks into is the recognition that sin is deceitful and its roots go deep into our lives and that if one cares deeply about pursuing a holy life, such drastic measures may be necessary and that we cannot do it ourselves but only as we come under the authority of Christ and those who minister on his behalf.

Much of this challenges our "I'm basically a good person" culture that embraces radical personal freedom. It recognizes that freedom often comes through submission to the rule of another that brings order to lives out of control. And so, I think there are a number of insights from Benedict's "Rule" that apply to those of us not living as monastics:

1. If loving God above all else is indeed the one thing in our lives, then this implies the simplicity that removes all that distracts from this pursuit.

2. Some "rule of life" is necessary for all of us--a rhythm of ordering our hours and days around the pursuit of our first love.

3. We cannot do this alone. Work and prayer in community with others of like mind is important to sustaining our resolve.

4. "Submission" is a nasty word to most of us in contemporary society and yet if we do not submit to Christ and those seeking genuinely to act on his behalf as shepherds to us, how can we hope to flourish "in green pastures and beside still waters"?

This particular edition is preceded by an essay by Thomas Moore and a helpful chronology of monasticism. Even if all the details of monastic life seem irrelevant, I would recommend reading the first seven chapters which include discussions of humility, the restraint of speech and seeking the counsel of others that have relevance for all of us. But the rest will not take a great deal of time, the whole "Rule" only occupies 70 pages in this edition.
Profile Image for Hannah Notess.
Author 5 books71 followers
January 1, 2016
I mean, there's not a lot of books this old that people are using for guidance to live their daily lives. Everyone gets kitchen duty. Minus one star for the suggestion that if children are out of line, you should beat them, because they won't understand getting excommunicated. I guess times do change.
Profile Image for Mary.
742 reviews16 followers
May 18, 2017
I don't think I'm going to be joining a nunnery anytime soon.
Profile Image for booklady.
2,237 reviews65 followers
July 9, 2013
Although I’ve read and listened to The Rule of St. Benedict several times since first being introduced to it twelve or so years ago, a monastic retreat given by Abbot Lawrence Stasyszen O.S.B. from St. Gregory's University at the abbey breathed life into the words of this 1500 year old document. The Rule of St. Benedict, or simply ‘the Rule’ (or RB) was written by St. Benedict of Nursia, considered by some the Father of Western Monasticism and his Rule—which are guidelines for living in community—is the model for all others which came after. This well-deserved reputation is based on the Rule’s practical simplicity and moderate nature as well as a compassionate understanding of both sinful humanity and Divine Mercy. It is a very short and easy to read document, consisting of a Prologue and 73 chapters, some of which are only a couple of sentences.

Acknowledging that all the baptized (and not just the clergy) are called to lives of holiness, Abbot Lawrence invited us to look at how relevant the Rule can be as we strive to become incarnations of God’s Love. Holiness is first and foremost a work of God in us. We are being perfected and that is mostly through our cooperation with God’s Will and in, by and through His Love. Holiness is rarely mentioned in RB but one important place where Benedict reminds his readers where our priority must be: ‘Not to desire to be called holy before one is; but to be holy first, that one may be truly so called.’ (Chapter 4, Verse 62).

And how are we to BE HOLY? In the Prologue we learn, ‘And our Lord seeking His workers among the multitude, the Lord calls out to him and lifts His voice again: “Is there anyone here who yearns for life, and desires to see good days?” (Ps 34:13) If you hear this, and your answer is “I do,” God then directs these words to you: “If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue from vicious talk, and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil, and do good; let peace be your quest and pursue it. Once you have done this: My eyes shall be upon you, and My ears listen to your prayers; and even before you ask Me, I will say to you: Here I am. (Is 58:9) What, dear brothers, is more delightful, than this voice of the Lord, calling to us? See how the Lord in His love He shows us the way of life! Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, and with the Gospel for our guide that we may deserve to see Him who has called us to His kingdom.’ (1 Thess 2:12) In other words, the Benedictine maxim, Ora et Labora or Pray and Work.

Although we commonly think of praying as something we do, actually it is what God does in and for us. In the Rule we learn that prayer is called ‘the Work of God’. Our primary responsibilities so far as prayer are concerned are: promptness, presence and participation, i.e., we must first of all, show up on time and let nothing take precedence over time set aside for prayer. Next we must be truly present to God as He is always fully present to us. Whenever we become aware our minds have drifted from prayer, we must again bring focus back to God. There is great value in this constant striving to bring the attention back. Like so many other things in life, perseverance in this struggle is of great value and strengthens one spiritually much as exercise builds up the body. And finally we are called to participation in the prayer of community. Abbot Lawrence mentioned that we must never forget our inherent and singular worth as a Child of God. By the same token, we must also remember that we are not only children! All too often we think, ‘I can’t pray with so-and-so or at this church or in this manner. We want the god-of-my-terms, instead of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. Much is written in RB about the indispensability of obedience and humility to any growth in holiness. Abbot Lawrence said he has attended week-long conferences just on one of those virtues.

The Benedictines take the vows of obedience, stability and conversion of life. These vows are renewed annually. Obedience is self-explanatory. Stability means remaining with the same monastic community for life. Conversion of life refers to constantly seeking the perfection called for by Our Lord at the very end of the Sermon on the Mount when He says, So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Holiness is its own reward.


November 2010: One of those books to be read about every two or three years. A good staple of our Catholic heritage.


April 2010: Have read this before but not for quite some time. Am actually listening to the book-on-CD at home. Some parts very applicable, others not so much.
Profile Image for Nathan Albright.
4,426 reviews102 followers
March 20, 2018
As a reader, I must admit that aside from my passionate interest in the Brother Cadfael series of history novels [1], and the fact that I live a rather monk-like existence in general, the rules of monasteries have not generally been of profound personal interest.  This is not least because I come from a religious tradition where there are no such practices and where acesticism and celibacy in general are highly frowned upon at best.  That said, as someone who reads a great deal outside of my own particular religious traditions, it came time for me to read this book as part of a challenge [2], and I have to say that I found this book to be an interesting one.  That is not to say that I found a great deal of agreement with the asceticism of the author or his perspective of what others have considered the "white martyrdom" of monasticism, but rather I saw this book as an interesting human attempt to manage people under less than ideal circumstances that shows a great deal of humanity and moderation, and there is something at least to appreciate about that.

This particular rule is a short one, at just under 100 very small pages that can be comfortably fit inside of a pocket, containing 73 very small chapters, some as short as a single paragraph.  After a preface from the editors and an introduction from the author (namely Benedict himself) explaining why he has taken the task of writing this rule, the author discusses a wide variety of practical topics, beginning with a look at the kinds of monks (1), the qualities of abbots (2), and the consensual workings of monasteries (3).  The author talks about tools for good works (4) in the aims of obedience (5), restraint of speech (6), and humility (7).  A fair amount of space is given to the divine office at night (8) including the number of psalms (9) and the arrangement of the night offices in summer (10).  A discussion of the celebration of lauds on Sunday (11) and their solemnity (12), and the celebration of lauds on ordinary (13) and saint's days (14) takes up some time as well.  Later chapters of the book deal with the subject of reverence in prayer (20), the sleeping arrangements of the monks (22), and a few chapters that look at excommunication for faults (23), degrees of excommunication (24), serious faults (25), unauthorized communication with those who have been excommunicated (26), the abbot's concern for those who have been excommunicated (27), the treatment of those who refuse to repent with other punishments (28), and the readmission of monks who seek to return to the monastery after having departed (29).  A few of the chapters deal with offices, including the deans (21), the cellarer (31), kitchen servers (35), the reader (38), the porter (66), and the elections of abbots (64) and the selection of priors (65).  The author also shows himself deeply interested in the practical task of life together in a religious community, discussing the importance of manual labor (48), dealing with monks who work outside the monastery (50) or are traveling (51, 67), receiving guests (53), avoiding favoritism in who sits at the abbot's table (56) and in encouraging good zeal among monks (72), noting at the end that this rule is only the beginning of perfection and not the end (73).

What struck me the most about this rule, and this is perhaps due both to the author as well as to the translators of it, is the way that the rule strikes this reader at least as being highly moderate.  It is typically thought that the life of monks was extremely austere and ascetic to an extreme, but although some of the rules were severe, like the fact that monks were forbidden any private property, including books and writing implements, without the express permission of the abbot, the rule as a whole recognizes that the monks were human beings subject to foibles and imperfects and makes arrangements for their sleeping and eating arrangements that are certainly moderate and also even allows for a certain amount of drinking in moderation as a way to aid their duties.  In short, this book is not one that appears, at least if one looks at it as a human effort, to be that far beyond the sort of faith that a conscientious believer of a works-based religion would have, and there is even a bit of grace here, more than one would expect at any rate.  Let us consider this book a triumph over low expectations.

[1] See, for example:




[2] See, for example:

Profile Image for Sheila .
1,922 reviews
January 31, 2013
I purchased this kindle version of the Rule of St. Benedict after reading about this religious text in The Cloister Walk, and wanting to see for myself what was contained in this book that the Benedictines base their lifestyle on.

I find the monastic lifestyle facinating, and can highly respect their ascetic beliefs, and their reasonable, moderate, balanced approach to faith and life. The book is a guide written by St. Benedict, which covers basically everything relating to the monastic lifestyle, including recommendations on prayer, work, clothing, eating, treatment of guests, sleeping arrangements, you name it.

This specific kindle version of the text appears to be designed for continual reading throughout the year, with the entire book designed to be read 3 times in total each year. The book is divided into short sections, and each section is headed by three dates for the year, such as April 22 - August 22 - December 22, meaning you should read this part on each of those dates. I did not follow these reading guidelines, and instead read the book straight through in about 10 days time, but I can see how this format would be appreciated by a follower of the Benedictine faith.

I would actually like to revisit this text later in the future, and would like to read RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes, which is the same book in a format which includes multiple an extra 500 pages of footnotes and essays.
Profile Image for Andres Mosquera Salazar.
42 reviews12 followers
June 13, 2013
Decidí leer La Santa Regla después de leer Tres Monjes Rebeldes; necesitaba entender mejor en qué consistía esta forma de vivir de los monjes. Definitivamente esta lectura ha llenado mis expectativas, pues permite entender con mucho más detalle la vida monástica.

Al leer este libro, tan sólo la regla, pude imaginarme la vida de estos monjes: desde su manera de vestir, hasta su forma de rezar. Hay que decir que San Benito proponía un estilo de vida radical y difícil, pero que, sin duda alguna, le daba gloria a Dios en una de las máximas expresiones humanas.

La Regla de San Benito nos remite a los primeros cristianos; qué gran oportunidad nos da este libro de viajar en el tiempo, de recordar lo esencial, de entender que debemos ser santos, y que somos tan sólo peregrinos en este mundo.

Profile Image for Ilze LA.
17 reviews3 followers
March 16, 2017
Lasīju Benedikta likumus, klausoties agrīno viduslaiku vēstures kursu. Neesmu ticīga, kristiete vēl mazāk, drīzāk agnostiķis parastais ( vai skdriņa Tipa, kas ticēja - neticēja).
Pazemība, paklausība, sods, T.sk. miesas sods, pašnoliegšana - tās ir kategorijas, pretrunā manai dvēseles būtībai. Tomēr lasot sajutu savu neizbēgamo piederību pasaulei, ko gadsimtiem un paaudzēm veidojusi kristīgā pasaules uztvere, cik daudz kas pašsaprotams tāds ir tieši rietumu kristietības kontekstā, nevis pats par sevi . Un Benedikta likumos ļoti konkrēti aprakstīta ideālas kristīgās dzīves kvintesence.
Lasās raiti un brīžam ar smaidu - iespraudumi (which God forbid) pie īpaši pretdievīgām iespējamībām vien ko vērti.
Profile Image for David .
1,240 reviews155 followers
January 20, 2014
How do you review a book like this? I mean, there are many nuggets of wisdom throughout that can be beneficial for any reader. But the whole purpose of writing it was to create a rule for monks. Thus, many of the rules on excommunication and daily order of life for monks are more difficult to apply to contemporary non-monastic life. It would be tempting to give it fewer stars since I did not enjoy it nearly as much as a book like Foster's Celebration of Discipline. But that is more my problem then Benedict's - this is a tremendously influential classic and for that reason alone deserves a high rating. I'd recommend it for those who like reading classics.
Profile Image for Aaron.
330 reviews4 followers
January 31, 2022
I read this mainly so I could get an idea of how a medieval Christian monastery worked. For, ya know, fun.

Here's a taste of some of the inspiration to be found in these pages:

"Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die." (Same.)
"Admit with your tongue and be convinced in your heart that you are inferior to all and of less value." (Even better.)
"If anyone is caught grumbling let him undergo more severe discipline." (Okay, but I mean...)
"Death is stationed near the gateway of pleasure." (Wait a minute.)
"Boys are to be disciplined in everything by everyone." (What the fu-)

An absolute hoot.
Profile Image for Shawn Enright.
139 reviews4 followers
October 20, 2022
Benedict’s rule is a contemporary scandal. think about it: an elite and exclusive group of men who starve themselves, never talk or disobey a superior, work all the time, and — if the abbott permits it — could be flogged or excommunicated for heresy or refusal to respect your superior’s authority. also, you can’t move, have sex, or own anything

do NOT let Mike Cosper or Christianity Today read this book! Driscoll is junior varsity compared to these guys
Profile Image for SweetAileen.
29 reviews1 follower
February 28, 2021
I’ve had a devotion to this saint for awhile now and even visited a Benedictine convent for a week so it has been a great pleasure to read this book. If you aren’t someone who’s religious or lukewarm about it you might find most of his rules to be odd but hopefully you’ll also find them interesting. He does get very intense but he has given me a lot to think about regarding my own walk of faith. My personal favorite part was the chapter on humility. So if you’re someone who’s a fan of St. Benedict, interested in Catholic culture, or someone looking for ways to deepen their faith I would definitely recommend this book to you. The preface by Thomas Moore ( not the saint lol) was also very nice he did a great job at giving an introduction to this inspiring saint.
Profile Image for Emily Betts.
110 reviews
June 1, 2022
A fundamental document of medieval monasticism - fascinating, rigid, and yet oddly beautiful in its own way 🥹
Profile Image for Jeremy.
Author 2 books232 followers
April 5, 2018
Read this as part of a Great Texts course at Baylor that I'm unofficially auditing.

About the Vintage Spiritual Classics
xi: turn from the therapeutic
xii-xiii: lector divina as an act of prayer

xv: Benedict was fed up with Roman paganism [cf. Martin Luther in 1510-11]
xvii: rules can be abused (sadists and masochists); it's interesting how much the Moore stresses an allegorical interpretation of Benedict's rule, as if he knows the stringency will turn many people off
xviii: modern = individualistic; community = altruism and self-denial
xx: the abbot speaks for Christ
xxi: Rudolf Otto: religion is a sense of awe
xxii: sexuality and humor not necessarily suppressed
xxiii: being aware of the divine presence everywhere (see p. 28)
xxiv: the soul is the center of attention
xxv: modernity can't satisfy; monasticism avoids anxiety

xxvii-xxx: short biography of Benedict
xxx: concern about the rule's strictness

Chronology of Christian Monasticism
xxxi-xxxvi: Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus, Antony of Egypt, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine of Hippo, Benedict, Gregory the Great, etc.

The Rule (73 chapters)
3-6: conflicting message of doing good works to "deserve" the kingdom, vs. acknowledging that God's power brings about our good works
7-8: 4 types of monks
8: abbot has the place of Christ
10: treatment varies by circumstance
13: give God credit for good things
16-20: Ch. 7 on humility (12-step process)
16: "we descend by exaltation and ascend by humility" [cf. The Valley of Vision]
20: "good habit and delight in virtue" [cf. Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics]
21-28: lots of psalm singing
28: get through the whole psalter in a week (energetic Fathers did it in a day)
30: don't sleep with your knife
31: perform satisfaction [penance; see pp. 44-46, 68]
33: corporal punishment (cauterizing iron, strokes of the rod, knife for amputation)
34: may return (after leaving) up to three times
34-35: cellarer must be humble
36: no private property
39: the sick may bathe and eat meat
41: avoid meat from four-footed animals; half a bottle of wine a day
46: types of work
47: "Idleness is the enemy of the soul."
48: read an entire book during Lent
49: "The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent."; don't do anything without the abbot's approval
51-52: guests should be welcomed by superiors, not brothers
54: bedding and clothing; the abbot's table
55: artistry in the monastery
56: hard entrance (long waiting period and repetition of the rule) for novices
59-60: visiting monks
61: sometimes boys can judge their elders, like Samuel and Daniel (cf. p. 67)
63: hate the sin, but love the sinner; leaders should strive to be loved, not feared; discretion is the mother of virtues
65: porter's room is near the entrance
66: news from outside the monastery can be dangerous
67: don't defend blood relatives in a monastery
69: wicked zeal vs. good zeal; this rule is to lead to virtue in the monastic life; use the OT and the NT; Basil mentioned
70: cultivate virtues with God's help; this is a little rule for beginners [cf. Westminster Shorter Catechism]
Profile Image for Adam.
319 reviews8 followers
September 29, 2018
In the 21st century the influence of the Christian religion on Western culture is far less than it was in previous centuries. Christian authors as widely different as Shane Claiborne and Rod Dreher have noted that, as the surrounding world rejects Christ more and more, Christians will have to take greater risks and make more radical choices to follow Him. Ours is a "post-Constantinian" world, one in which the Church holds less and less cultural capital, and has less and less influence in public policy-making. What is advocated by many is the so-called "New Monasticism," a re-discovery of ancient monastic practices tailored for laypeople in post-Christendom.

Even though its original context was for 6th century cenobites and their cellarer, prior, and abbot - we need this little book by St Benedict today. Its single minded purpose is to equip men for obedience to Jesus Christ; positively everything, from the schedule of the day to sleeping arrangements to food service is oriented toward love of neighbor and love of God. Laypeople and modern religious have so much to learn from this "rudimentary" Rule which is far more sophisticated and brilliant than Benedict (in his humility) would have ever admitted. Saturated with the Scriptures and focused upon fostering a perfect love of Christ and neighbor, the Rule is flexible enough to give insight and inspiration to any Christian in any circumstance today. This translation is also fantastic, and the edition is portable and inexpensive. It belongs on every believer's shelf along with the Bible and the Fathers.
Profile Image for Diem.
451 reviews136 followers
September 29, 2014
This slim volume is just what it says, a book of rules. Rules for Benedictine monks of the Middle Ages. Which must make it seem an odd choice of reading for a middle-aged housewife of no religious orientation. But, I enjoyed it for it was.
Profile Image for John Angerer.
32 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2017
This book is the perfect, simple, well translated rule of st. Benedict. Short of the brief history of how the rule came to pass, it is purely the rule with little explication. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in Benedict's order, rule or monastic life.
Profile Image for Larissa.
227 reviews36 followers
February 18, 2016
Read for the Great Conversation second semester of freshman year.
Profile Image for Bradley.
1,117 reviews9 followers
September 4, 2022
I’m getting more involved at my church. Apparently this means people can just start throwing stuff at you. I don’t mind. I am interested. This particular pamphlet(?) is geared towards monks. And while I’m not the target audience and the beginning totally rubbed me the wrong way I do see some cool insights here. At the same time it splits me right down the middle. For all the stuff I nod my head to or feel like it’s correct by the heart I can’t stomach commands, edicts, in essence the authority that’s (what to me feels like) being called.

I guess I’ll use this for a bit of personal journaling, eh? I’ve always been of the view that all religions share the same spirituality - that is to say we are all climbing the same mountain. Different paths journeying to the same end. Different words, different cultures, different customs…Just different. And so the more deeply I get involved in any one thing the more confused I make myself (which is sometimes a good thing). Perhaps that’s my issue as well. I can’t go full throttle with the religions because…Well, I don’t trust em totally. Sure, if Jesus were here I’d like to think I could trust him. And the people I’m working with at my church are people I really am starting to trust. They’re genuinely good people. I just can’t make the same leap that they do. And maybe it’s just that devotion is not the path for me.

If knowing your path were only so simple. Do I have too much doubt? Am I being too dodgy and not persistent enough? People will pour words into my ear which might even be correct; I just can’t seem to settle with it.

I’m no monk and perhaps if I were I’d be labelled sarabaite. The irony is I’ve rid myself of like 60% of my possessions, I’m practically selling myself to service, and well there’s more but why bore you or myself lol.

I don’t know man. Prayers these days are about confusion and guidance if I pray for myself. Mostly it’s for the kids (and peeps) I’m working with. And so I wonder if I’ve made any growth at all since I still feel largely the same way I did years back. To be fair there’s a lot less anger, like HOLY COW A LOT LESS. Reading something like this I feel like my qualms remain the same.

Anyways, most of what I’m saying has nothing to do with the book. It’s a relatively strict guide on the rules and observances a monk should follow. The rules laid out can benefit lay people as well, in the same way people benefit from The Art of War with no intention of being a soldier.
Profile Image for Mystie Winckler.
Author 7 books412 followers
February 23, 2023
Reread for my local book club which is reading medievals this year.

The prologue is primarily Scripture strung together to demonstrate what a godly life of obedience looks like. After that, he gets into logistics and the balance from Scriptural mandates to good ideas meant to keep order and focus skews heavily to the "good ideas" - which means, of course, we should debate whether or not they are good ideas.

Our book club discussion touched on the medieval idea of the Three Estates - where it was considered the clergy's occupation to pray for the community in the same way the peasant's occupation was cultivating food for the community. We also noted the blessing a well-run monastery would be to its region in unsafe and unsettled times and how they provided welfare care.

The monastery was set up like a family, where the abbot is the father and charged to extend fatherly care. The others, then, are charged to obey the abbot as children obey a father. The book, then, basically lines out the "house rules," above and beyond basic morality so that the house can accomplish its goals.
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