The Prologue of The Rule Of St Benedict!

1Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. 2The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. 3This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.

4First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.5In his goodness, he has already counted us as his sons, and therefore we should never grieve him by our evil actions. 6With his good gifts which are in us, we must obey him at all times that he may never become the angry father who disinherits his sons, 7nor the dread lord, enraged by our sins, who punishes us forever as worthless servants for refusing to follow him to glory.Jertree.jpg (4103 bytes)

8Let us get up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom 13:11). 9Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from heaven that every day calls out this charge: 10If you hear this voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps 94 [95]:8). And again: 11You that have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7). 12And what does he say?Come and listen to me sons; I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 33 [34]:12). 13Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (John 12:35).

14Seeking his workman in a multitude of people, the Lord calls out to him and lifts his voice again: 15Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days? (Ps 33 [34]:13) 16If you hear this and your answer is “I do,” God then directs these words to you: 17If you desire true and eternal life,keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim (Ps 33 [34}:14-15). 18Once you have done this, myeyes will be upon you and my ears will listen for your prayers; and even before you ask me I will say to you:Here I am (Isa 58:9).

19What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? 20See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life. 21Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).

Frdanicn.jpg (11888 bytes)22If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds. 23But let us ask the Lord with the Prophet: Who will dwell in your tent, Lord; who will find rest upon your holy mountain? (Ps 14 [15]:1). 24After this question, brothers let us listen well to what the Lord says in reply, for he shows us the way to his tent.25One who walks without blemish, he says, and is just in all his dealings; 26who speaks the truth from his heart and has not practiced deceit with his tongue; 27who has not wronged a fellowman in any way, nor listened to slanders against his neighbor (Ps 14 [15]:2-3.

28He has foiled the evil one, the devil, at every turn, flinging both him and his promptings farfrom the sight of his heart. While these temptations were still young, he caught hold of them and dashed them against Christ (Ps 14 [15]:4; 136 [137]:9). 29These people fear the Lord, and do not become elated over their own good deeds; they judge it is the Lord’s power, not their own, that brings about the good in them. 30They praise (Ps 14 [15]:4) the Lord working in them, and say with the Prophet: Not to us, Lord, not to us give the glory, but to your name alone (Ps 113 [115:1]:9). 31In just this way Paul the Apostle refused to take credit for the power of his preaching. He declared: By God’s grace I am what I am (1 Cor 15:10). 32And again he said: He who boasts should make his boast in the Lord (2 Cor 10:17). 33That is why the Lord says in the Gospel: Whoever hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house upon rock;34the floods came and the winds blew and beat against the house, but it did not fall: it was founded on rock(Matt 7:24-25).

35With this conclusion, the Lord waits for us daily to translate into action, as we should, his holy teachings.36Therefore our life span has been lengthened by way of a truce, that we may amend our misdeeds. 37As the Apostle says: Do you not know that the patience of God is leading you to repent (Rom 2:4)? 38And indeed the Lord assures us in his love: I do not wish the death of the sinner, but that he turn back to me and live (Ezek 33:11).

39Brothers, now that we have asked the Lord who will dwell in his tent, we have heard the instruction for dwelling in it, but only if we fulfill the obligations of those who live there. 40We must, then, prepare our hearts and bodies for the battle of holy obedience to his instructions. 41What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace. 42If we wish to reach eternal life, even as we avoid the torments of hell, 43then – while there is still time, while we are in this body and have time to accomplish all these things by the light of life – 44we must run and do now what will profit us forever.

45Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service. 46In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. 47The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. 48Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. 49But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. 50Never swerving from his instructions, then, but faithfully observing his teaching in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom. Amen.

Quoted from RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1981)

Watercolors by: Br. Jerome Kmiecik, OSB.
Calligraphy by: Abbot Theodore Wolf, OSB.
Woodcut Icon of St. Benedict by: Fr. Daniel Lenz, OSB.


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