May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
With today's reading, we complete another cycle of the Rule of St.
Benedict. One might think that after the hard work of grappling with
the issues raised in the RB and our own responses revealing both our
short comings and our gifts, that the good Saint would give us a
breather. But nope. Benedict regards his Rule as the bare beginnings
of the religious life, by no means comprehensive. There is so much
more for us to read and incorporate into our hearts, minds, souls,
bodies, sinews, bone marrow, blood vessels.
What are these resources which he commends to us? The Fathers of the
Church: those Christian writes of the Patristic period; the Bible;
again the Fathers of the Church; Cassian's conferences and Institutes,
St. Basil's Rule. There is a lifetime of material to incarnate within
one's being were any of us to choose this path. Clearly it is Father
Benedict's hope that we will want to go beyond the Rule to study and
embrace, contemplate and meditate, to absorb all that the Lord offers
us that we might love Him beyond any other loves.