The Rule of St. Benedict

The Rule of St. Benedict emphasized the Lord’s service by means of a cenobite monastic lifestyle which was lived within a community under the direction and rule of the Abbot.[1] Benedictine Monasticism was considered a western expression of the monastic movement and differed from its eastern counterpart in that people were formed within community with a practical mission in the world.[2] The Rule emphasized discipline, obedience, humility, stability and prayer “for the purpose of amending vices or preserving charity” in order that  “the heart becomes broadened, and, with the unutterable sweetness of love, the way of the mandates of the Lord is traversed.”[3] Furthermore, The Rule emphasized physical labor which not only sustained the monasteries but also produced goods that were used to help the poor or sick. The main elements of the Rule were communal structured prayer times, two communal meals per day, manual labor, sacred reading, community councils and communal sleeping corridors with designated sleeping times. Material items were for communal use, and so  Monks did not own anything and did not keep personal items. There was an initiation period that people had to undergo to become a monk, and once they were accepted as a monk they were committed for the remainder of their life. They were not free to leave the monastery or transition to another monastery.[4]

Benedictine Monasticism was an internally focused community with little contact with external society. They lived an extremely devoted, disciplined, structured and minimalist lifestyle for the sake of the kingdom of God. The Rule of St. Benedict developed monks that followed the spiritual rhythms of a less distracted life. Following Christ within a focused, committed and stable community was the emphasis. Prayers and intercessions for the world were continually lifted up to God. Love for one another was daily expressed, cultivated and matured. Gifts, skills and talents were used to serve the monastic community or the poor or the sick of society. People from the cities visited the monasteries to learn how to live a different life marked by love and devotion within community.


[1] https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/source/rul-benedict.asp. 

[2] Justo L.González, The Story of Christianity, Rev. and Updated, 2nd ed. (New York: HarperOne, 2010), EPUB edition, pt. 3, ch. 27, “Benedictine Monasticism. 

[3] https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/source/rul-benedict.asp

[4] https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/source/rul-benedict.asp