St. Benedict of Nursia

Scroll for quotes→

Benedict of Nursia (480-548), commonly known as Saint Benedict, was a Catholic monk who founded twelve communities for monks as well as the Order of St Benedict, a monastic religious order referred to as the Benedictines. Benedict’s main achievement, his “Rule of Saint Benedict”, contains a set of rules for his monks to follow. Heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian, it shows strong affinity with the Rule of the Master, but it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness (ἐπιείκεια, epieíkeia), which persuaded most Christian religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, his Rule became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom.


return to top ⇑

Quotes and Excerpts:

“When, therefore, anyone taketh the name of Abbot he should govern his disciples by a twofold
teaching; namely, he should show them all that is good and holy by his deeds more than by his
words; explain the commandments of God to intelligent disciples by words, but show the divine
precepts to the dull and simple by his works. And let him show by his actions, that whatever he
teacheth his disciples as being contrary to the law of God must not be done, ‘lest perhaps when he
hath preached to others, he himself should become a castaway’ (1 Cor 9:27).” -The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 2 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“Let not a free-born be preferred to a freedman, unless there be some other reasonable cause. But if from a
just reason the Abbot deemeth it proper to make such a distinction, he may do so in regard to the
rank of anyone whomsoever; otherwise let everyone keep his own place; for whether bond or free,
we are all one in Christ (cf Gal 3:28; Eph 6:8), and we all bear an equal burden of servitude under
one Lord, ‘for there is no respect of persons with God’ (Rom 2:11). We are distinguished with
Him in this respect alone, if we are found to excel others in good works and in humility.” -The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 2 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“The Instruments of Good Works:  In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole  strength… Then, one’s neighbor as one’s self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27). . . Behold, these are the instruments of the spiritual art, which, if they have been applied without
ceasing day and night and approved on judgment day, will merit for us from the Lord that reward
which He hath promised: ‘The eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him’ (1 Cor 2:9).” -The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 4 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This becometh those who, on account
of the holy subjection which they have promised, or of the fear of hell, or the glory of life everlasting,
hold nothing dearer than Christ. As soon as anything hath been commanded by the Superior they
permit no delay in the execution, as if the matter had been commanded by God Himself. Of these
the Lord saith: ‘At the hearing of the ear he hath obeyed Me’ (Ps 17[18]:45). And again He saith
to the teachers: ‘He that heareth you heareth Me’ (Lk 10:16).”  –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 5 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“For He Himself hath said: ‘He that heareth you heareth Me’ (Lk 10:16).  And it must be rendered by the disciples with a good will, ‘for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).’ For if the disciple obeyeth with an ill will, and
murmureth, not only with lips but also in his heart, even though he fulfil the command, yet it will
not be acceptable to God, who regardeth the heart of the murmurer.” –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 5 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“Hereupon let a hymn follow, and after that six psalms with antiphons. When these and the verse have been
said, let the Abbot give the blessing. All being seated on the benches, let three lessons be read
alternately by the brethren from the book on the reading stand, between which let three responsories
be said. Let two of the responsories be said without the Gloria, but after the third lesson, let him
who is chanting say the Gloria. When the cantor beginneth to sing it, let all rise at once from their
seats in honor and reverence of the Blessed Trinity.” –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 9 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“Let the inspired books of both the Old and the New Testaments be read at the night offices, as
also the expositions of them which have been made by the most eminent orthodox and Catholic Fathers.” –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 9 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“When the verse also hath been said and the Abbot hath given the blessing, let four
other lessons from the New Testament be read in the order above mentioned. But after the fourth
responsory let the Abbot intone the hymn Te Deum laudamus. When this hath been said, let the
Abbot read the lesson from the Gospel, all standing with reverence and awe. When the Gospel hath
been read let all answer Amen, and immediately the Abbot will follow up with the hymn Te decet
laus, and when he hath given the blessing Lauds will begin.”  –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 11 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“But let the brother who is found guilty of a graver fault be excluded from both the table and
the oratory. Let none of the brethren join his company or speak with him. Let him be alone at the
work enjoined on him, persevering in penitential sorrow, mindful of the terrible sentence of the
Apostle who saith, that “such a man is delivered over for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit
may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5).”  –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 25 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“Let the Abbot show all care and concern towards offending brethren because “they that are in
health need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Mt 9:12). Therefore, like a prudent physician
he ought to use every opportunity to send consolers, namely, discreet elderly brethren, to console
the wavering brother, as it were, in secret, and induce him to make humble satisfaction; and let
them cheer him up ‘lest he be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow’ (2 Cor 2:7); but, as the same
Apostle saith, ‘confirm your charity towards him’ (2 Cor 2:8); and let prayer be said for him by
all.”  –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 27 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“The life of a monk ought always to be a Lenten observance. However, since such virtue is that
of few, we advise that during these days of Lent he guard his life with all purity and at the same
time wash away during these holy days all the shortcomings of other times. This will then be
worthily done, if we restrain ourselves from all vices. Let us devote ourselves to tearful prayers,
to reading and compunction of heart, and to abstinence.
During these days, therefore, let us add something to the usual amount of our service, special
prayers, abstinence from food and drink, that each one offer to God ‘with the joy of the Holy Ghost’
(1 Thes 1:6), of his own accord, something above his prescribed measure; namely, let him withdraw
from his body somewhat of food, drink, sleep, speech, merriment, and with the gladness of spiritual
desire await holy Easter.”  –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 49 (Written in 516 A.D.)

“If a priest asketh to be received into the monastery, let consent not be granted too readily; still,
if he urgently persisteth in his request, let him know that he must keep the whole discipline of the
Rule, and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor, that it may be as it is written: “Friend, whereunto
art thou come” (Mt 26:25)?
It may be granted him, however, to stand next after the Abbot, and to give the blessing, or to
celebrate Mass, but only if the Abbot ordereth him to do so; but if he doth not bid him, let him not
presume to do anything under whatever consideration, knowing that he is under the discipline of
the Rule, and let him rather give examples of humility to all. But if there is a question of an appointment in the monastery, or any other matter, let him be ranked by the time of his entry into
the monastery, and not by the place granted him in consideration of the priesthood.” –The Rule of St. Benedict Chap. 60 (Written in 516 A.D.)


return to top ⇑