Wisdom from the Rule of Benedict

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community, Monastic Life, Rule of Benedict, Spirituality Articles Leave a Comment

One of my greatest joys is in sharing the richness of the Rule of Benedict.  Along with the Gospels, the Rule holds the foundational wisdom that forms every Benedictine community.  The wisdom of Benedict has also been embraced by spiritual seekers throughout the world for its fundamental clarity and insights. Periodically we welcome women to our Exploring Benedictine life retreats, an opportunity to immerse themselves in our Benedictine way.  What follows is some of the wisdom of the Rule I share with them.

Sister Joan Chittister, author of Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, Living the Rule of Benedict Today, once shared this very simple, distilled list, points of wisdom found in the Prologue to the Rule of Benedict:

  • Listen
  • Wake up
  • Do no harm
  • Do good
  • Trust in God
  • Prepare your heart and your body
  • Learn every day of your life

In addition, the following is a brief excerpt from Chapter 2 of Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, Listening: The Key to Spiritual Growth, Sister Joan’s reflections on Listening:

Listening is what Benedictine spirituality is all about in a culture that watches but very seldom hears. Benedictine spirituality is about listening to four realities: the Gospels, the Rule, one another, and the world around us. Most of us listen easily to one or two of these realities, but only with difficulty do we listen to all four. We read Scriptures faithfully, but fail to apply them. We listen to the needs of the poor, but forget the reading of the Gospel entirely. We go to spiritual directors regularly, but ignore or overlook the insights of the people with whom we live. We prefer to hear ourselves than to listen to wiser hearts for fear they might call us beyond ourselves. Benedictine spirituality requires the medley.

The spiritual life, in other words, is not achieved by denying one part of life for the sake of another. The spiritual life is achieved only by listening to all of life and learning to respond to each of its dimensions wholly and with integrity.

Do these thoughts resonate for you in your own life?  Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be guided by these values in a community of women? Please, share your questions, your wonderings with me – as a public comment to this post, or contact me personally: lwsmith@benedictinewomen.org or 608-831-9305.

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