The Rule of St. Benedict was
written as a guide to living life in community. It was not the
first "rule" for Christian followers, but its common-sense approach
and Scripture-based guidelines have stood the test of time.
Here are some comments from Fr. Harry Hagan, OSB, a monk of
Saint Meinrad Archabbey, about the Rule:
St. Benedict wrote his Rule roughly between
530 and 540 A.D. during the decline of the Roman Empire. Despite
the chaos of the invading tribes, St. Benedict produced a classic
statement on the monastic life.
By "classic," I mean a statement that transcends its historical
situation. Though some of the guidelines belong only to its
historical context, much in the Rule provides a
vision that speaks not just to monastic life, but to life as a
Christian and as a human being.
The Rule belongs generally to the wisdom
tradition. This includes biblical wisdom such as the books of
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Sirach.Wisdom literature balances
opposing values. For example, "A stitch in time saves nine" is
balanced by "Haste makes waste." The wise not only know both
sayings, but they also know which one applies to the present
situation - whether to act quickly or to move carefully and
Wisdom is experiential knowledge that comes from living and not
just studying. An understanding of
the Rule comes not just from studying, but from
living and being a part of a tradition.
Wisdom literature is wider than the Bible. Egypt had a number of
"instructions," typically by a sage to his "son."
In similar fashion, St. Benedict opens
his Rule by calling on the disciple to listen to
the teacher, and so the Rule established the classic
master-disciple relationship that can be found in many cultures.
This relationship depends on the disciple entrusting himself or
herself to the teacher in mutual trust and respect.