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The Rule of Saint Benedict Paperback – Mar 24 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Revised ed. edition (March 24 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037570017X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375700170
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #145,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Everybody has a rule of life, but it's a rare person who takes the time to spell her ethos out. St. Benedict's Rule, formulated in the sixth century, is among the most comprehensive and vital rules of life in the history of monasticism. Benedict was a tough guy--his standards of obedience, humility, and contemplation can sound awfully rigid to contemporary ears. But his rule has nurtured millions of lives not only in the cloisters, but in every city, suburb, and countryside where people strive to lead simpler lives. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Library Journal

Here Vintage uses Benedict's treatise on the monastic life to launch its new "Spiritual Classics" series. Written roughly around A.D. 400, Benedict's Rule has been the handbook of the Benedictines, Cistercians, and many other monastic orders throughout the world. For all religion collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Format: Paperback
The Rule of St. Benedict is a fairly short book, usually printed in fewer than 100 pages, with its 73 chapters of a few paragraphs in length at most. Here the entirety of the Rule is contained in 70 pages. It is a good example of the statement, 'good things come in small packages'.
This particular volume comes from the Vintage Spiritual Classics series, and there is no doubt that the Rule of Benedict, standing solid in community for 1500 years, qualifies. Countless people have based their lives and spiritual practices on the words contained herein.
Thomas Moore, noted author of such texts as 'Care of the Soul' and 'Meditations', provides an introduction to the series. Moore's sensibilities lend themselves to the practice of a rule -- discipline and community are important to him, and as such he finds a natural bond with Benedictine practices.
Father Timothy Fry, OSB (which stands for 'Order of St. Benedict', and is used by monastics and oblates), provides a brief introduction and a timeline of monastic development from before the Christian era to after the time of Benedict.
Benedict was fully aware of human frailty, as true 1500 years ago as it is today. This frailty requires much to be done to give the person strength, and so Benedict's Rule is designed for an ever-increasing self-discipline which is supported by community worship and practice.
Benedict's Rule for life includes worship, work, study, prayer, and relaxation. Benedict's Rule requires community -- even for those who become hermits or solitaries, there is a link to the community through worship and through the Rule. No one is alone. This is an important part of the relationship of God to the world, so it is an integral part of the Rule.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoy this book very much. The founder of Western monasticism, born in Nursia near Spoleto, Italy, St Benedict (c-547) studied at Rome. He became convinced that the only way of escaping the evil in the world was in seclusion and religious exercise. So as a boy of 14 he withdrew to a cavern or grotto near Subiaco, where he lived for three years. The fame of his piety led to his being appointed the abbot of a neighbouring monastery at Vicovaro, but he soon left it, as the morals of the monks were not strict enough. Although it is anathema to think of ourselves as insignificant, and to acknowledge that we will indeed die, I found great spiritual strength in the perspective this grip of reality has developed. With respect to the universe, I, as an individual, am pretty small. Further, it is a biological fact that I will not live forever. Somehow, this provides the freedom for me to consider and accept everlasting life with an intense desire. Some of Benedict's rules are quite practical. I can understand where a community in close quarters would benefit. He writes, "First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul and all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39)...Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue...Place your hope in God alone. If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself, but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge." If you are interesting in the origins of the monasitic lifestyle, or are seeking to develop a stronger spiritual relationship, this book will be interesting to you.
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Format: Paperback
This book has great value, not just as an historical artifact, but as a way to live one's life, both inside and outside the Cloister. I don't thing there is a single monastery today that follows all of the Rule "religiously". They all adapt the Rule to local circumstances, just as Benedict suggested, and just as Benedict himself did with existing Rules. This includes dietary and disciplinary regulations.
It is, however, helpful to have a guidebook such as Chittister's or de Wall's, in order to understand how the Rule is applied, and what wisdome people have found in it who have actually lived under its strictures for years and even decades. That will help the reader understand what value there is in the Rule.
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With all respect to our contemporary viewpoint, Benedict actually wrote this Rule of community life with an eye to moderation, not stricture. At the time Benedict hid himself away from the world, much of monasticism was not community-based but was lived by hermit-monks in self-contained cells or huts hidden in the desert or made from caves. Many of these hermits led lives of astounding rigor -- living years on crusts of bread, or going decades without leaving their small cell or room, or daily self-flagellation, or, like the Stylites, living years at the top of a pillar.
Benedict recognized that this kind of lifestyle would not work in a community. When the monks who had clustered around him began to try to work out life together, they needed new rules. Benedict gave them this masterwork. In it, for the first time, the monastic day is divided into measured portions of nearly equal amount -- time for work, time for sleep, time for prayer. This balance, clearly necessary in community, was nevertheless innovative and far easier to live than the rules that had come before.
I wear Benedict's medal to remind myself -- in an era in which more of the day is devoted to work than Benedict would have allowed -- that balance is critical to community. Reading the Rule in that light might add to your enjoyment of it in the 21st century.
As a side note, any fan of the Cadfael mysteries simply must read this Rule to properly understand the complexities of the life portrayed in those novels!
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