When the world is falling apart, people must find some way to hold their lives together. That’s the reason we have the Rule of St. Benedict. Rome had fallen, and its culture was becoming increasingly pagan. Benedict was stunned and saddened by what he found in Rome when he went there to attend school. He left the city and lived as a hermit in a cave at Subiaco, about 30 miles east of the city.
His way of life soon attracted the attention of others, and some monks asked him to be their abbot. In a relatively brief time, he had started a dozen monasteries with twelve monks in each one. Jealously and opposition from local clergy forced Benedict to move on to a mountain above Cassino.
Life together required some uniform expectations and actions. It always does. The Rule was written to establish a community that sought to live for the glory of God. Far from being a book of regulations, it is a document that guides adherents into holiness of heart and life. The Rule’s value was soon seen by other monastic communities, and it remains the basis for monasticism to the present day..
We find ourselves in a period in history when traditional monasticism is reviving, and “the new monasticism” is emerging. In both aspects the Rule of St. Benedict is finding fresh study and expression. People like Joan Chittister and Basil Pennington have written compelling commentaries on the Rule, expanding its influence into the rank and file of Christianity all over the world.
Taking the original meaning of the word “rule”—a trellis to hold up and guide a growing plant—we see the real purpose of the document. We will explore the Rule of St. Benedict from that perspective, for we all need support and direction in our spiritual formation. Each week’s posting will take us farther into the text of the Rule and deepen the life God desires for us to have. We will not be in any hurry, but will enter into the Rule meditatively. I invite you to join the Oboedire community each Friday in this journey.
Looking forward to this. Bless you as you begin to lead.