Rule of St Benedict: reflections


May 21—


  1. To fear the Day of Judgment.
  2. To be in dread of hell.
  3. To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
  4. To keep death daily before one’s eyes.
  5. To keep constant guard over the actions of one’s life.
  6. To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
  7. When evil thoughts come into one’s heart,
    to dash them against Christ immediately.
  8. And to manifest them to one’s spiritual father.
  9. To guard one’s tongue against evil and depraved speech.
  10. Not to love much talking.
  11. Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
  12. Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
  13. To listen willingly to holy reading.
  14. To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
  15. Daily in one’s prayers, with tears and sighs,

to confess one’s past sins to God, and to amend them for the future.

  1. Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh; to hate one’s own will.
  2. To obey in all things the commands of the Abbot, even though he himself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the Lord’s precept, “Do what they say, but not what they do.”
  3. Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be holy, that one may be truly so called.



There are two incentives underlying this section of the instruments of good works that we have just read: these are fear and desire.  Therefore we need to distinguish between them so that we may learn to recognize them and become able to free ourselves from our fears in order to follow Christ who is our one true desire.  To recognize our inadequacy without Him is already a gift and can result in peace, a peace that will embrace and guide us each moment from now on, because it is Love Himself who carries us.