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The Rule of St.Benedict (Vintage Spiritual Classics) Paperback – 24 Mar 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; New edition edition (24 Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037570017X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375700170
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 0.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,893,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Saint Benedict's "The Rule of Saint Benedict" (Vintage Spiritual Classic edition) is 112 pages long and is divided into 73 mini-chapters, along with a preface, introduction, chronology of Christian monasticism, and a list of endnotes of all biblical texts used. These are, in essence, the "house rules" for monks (or nuns) living in community with each other, seeking to escape the evils of the world, and seeking to know God better.

There are several strengths to this work. First, it is a 1500 year old classic work that has greatly influenced not only Western monasticism, but also the Western church in general. The fact that it has endured centuries of change is testament to its value. Second, it provides a very practical framework for doing life together, even dealing with such mundane topics as tools and goods of the monastery, the proper amount of food and drink, letters or gifts for monks, election of an Abbott, clothing and footwear, etc. Third, of course, it also deals with much loftier issues, with the central pursuit being stated this way: "the love of Christ must come before all else." To aid in this, a system is set up to encourage individual and communal prayers, reflections on the Scripture, and doing good works. Fourth, a great deal of practical and godly wisdom is found in the Rule that is virtually missing in the fast-paced, individualistic, and consumeristic society and church of the modern age in the West. Much can be learned from considering many of its admonitions and practices.

The limits should be pointed out. The Rule admits that it provides only a starting point to the pursuit of a godly life: "The reason we have written this rule is that, by observing it in monasteries, we can show that we have some degree of virtue and the beginnings of monastic life.
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By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 9 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
The Rule of St. Benedict is a fairly short book, usually printed in fewer than 100 pages, with its 73 chapters of a few paragraphs in length at most. Here the entirety of the Rule is contained in 70 pages. It is a good example of the statement, 'good things come in small packages'.
This particular volume comes from the Vintage Spiritual Classics series, and there is no doubt that the Rule of Benedict, standing solid in community for 1500 years, qualifies. Countless people have based their lives and spiritual practices on the words contained herein.
Thomas Moore, noted author of such texts as 'Care of the Soul' and 'Meditations', provides an introduction to the series. Moore's sensibilities lend themselves to the practice of a rule -- discipline and community are important to him, and as such he finds a natural bond with Benedictine practices.
Father Timothy Fry, OSB (which stands for 'Order of St. Benedict', and is used by monastics and oblates), provides a brief introduction and a timeline of monastic development from before the Christian era to after the time of Benedict.
Benedict was fully aware of human frailty, as true 1500 years ago as it is today. This frailty requires much to be done to give the person strength, and so Benedict's Rule is designed for an ever-increasing self-discipline which is supported by community worship and practice.
Benedict's Rule for life includes worship, work, study, prayer, and relaxation. Benedict's Rule requires community -- even for those who become hermits or solitaries, there is a link to the community through worship and through the Rule. No one is alone. This is an important part of the relationship of God to the world, so it is an integral part of the Rule.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 34 reviews
85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
Context is everything 25 Sept. 2000
By Julia Belian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
With all respect to our contemporary viewpoint, Benedict actually wrote this Rule of community life with an eye to moderation, not stricture. At the time Benedict hid himself away from the world, much of monasticism was not community-based but was lived by hermit-monks in self-contained cells or huts hidden in the desert or made from caves. Many of these hermits led lives of astounding rigor -- living years on crusts of bread, or going decades without leaving their small cell or room, or daily self-flagellation, or, like the Stylites, living years at the top of a pillar.
Benedict recognized that this kind of lifestyle would not work in a community. When the monks who had clustered around him began to try to work out life together, they needed new rules. Benedict gave them this masterwork. In it, for the first time, the monastic day is divided into measured portions of nearly equal amount -- time for work, time for sleep, time for prayer. This balance, clearly necessary in community, was nevertheless innovative and far easier to live than the rules that had come before.
I wear Benedict's medal to remind myself -- in an era in which more of the day is devoted to work than Benedict would have allowed -- that balance is critical to community. Reading the Rule in that light might add to your enjoyment of it in the 21st century.
As a side note, any fan of the Cadfael mysteries simply must read this Rule to properly understand the complexities of the life portrayed in those novels!
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Listening for the spirit... 11 Jun. 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Rule of St. Benedict is a fairly short book, usually printed in fewer than 100 pages, with its 73 chapters of a few paragraphs in length at most. Here the entirety of the Rule is contained in 70 pages. It is a good example of the statement, 'good things come in small packages'.
This particular volume comes from the Vintage Spiritual Classics series, and there is no doubt that the Rule of Benedict, standing solid in community for 1500 years, qualifies. Countless people have based their lives and spiritual practices on the words contained herein.
Thomas Moore, noted author of such texts as 'Care of the Soul' and 'Meditations', provides an introduction to the series. Moore's sensibilities lend themselves to the practice of a rule -- discipline and community are important to him, and as such he finds a natural bond with Benedictine practices.
Father Timothy Fry, OSB (which stands for 'Order of St. Benedict', and is used by monastics and oblates), provides a brief introduction and a timeline of monastic development from before the Christian era to after the time of Benedict.
Benedict was fully aware of human frailty, as true 1500 years ago as it is today. This frailty requires much to be done to give the person strength, and so Benedict's Rule is designed for an ever-increasing self-discipline which is supported by community worship and practice.
Benedict's Rule for life includes worship, work, study, prayer, and relaxation. Benedict's Rule requires community -- even for those who become hermits or solitaries, there is a link to the community through worship and through the Rule. No one is alone. This is an important part of the relationship of God to the world, so it is an integral part of the Rule.
Benedict's Rule was set out first in a world that was torn with warfare, economic and political upheaval, and a generally harsh physical environment. This Rule was set out to bring order to a general chaos in which people lived. This is still true today, and men and women all over the world use Benedict's 'little rule for beginners' as a basic structure for their lives.
The first word of the rule is Listen. This is perhaps the best advice for anyone looking for any guidance or rule of life. While Benedict's Rule is decidedly Christocentric and hierarchical (though not as hierarchical as much popular ideas about monastic practice would have one think), it nonetheless can give value to any reader who is looking to construct a practice for oneself.
Benedict's establishment of a monastery was in fact the establishment of a school for spirituality. In his prologue to the Rule, Benedict even states this as his intention. In drawing up its regulations, he intends to set down 'nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.' He sets forth in this brief rule a guide to individual life within community that will bring one ever closer to the divine.
Benedict explores the issues of charity, personality, integrity, and spirituality in all of his rules. From the clothing to the prayer cycle to the reception of guests, all have a purpose that fits into a larger whole, and all have positive charges and negative warnings. Benedict is especially mindful of the sin of pride, be it pride of possession, pride of person, pride of place -- he strives for equality in the community (as a recognition that all are equal before God).
Hundreds of thousands of pages have been written over the last millenium and a half on the Rule of St. Benedict, but it all comes down to this brief collection, which can be read easily in an hour, yet takes a lifetime (or perhaps more!) to master.
There is a useful section for guidance for further reading at the end. Open it for yourself to see what riches it may hold for you.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A rule or a measure? 24 Oct. 2001
By Gary Sprandel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This edition starts with a helpful introduction of Lectio Divina reading (read, meditate, rest in God, govern one's actions) by the editors. Thomas Moore (Care for the Soul) then presents the "rule" not as an edict but as a measure for spiritual progress. He states monks have a sense of humor, but his Franciscan past is probably more open than Benedict's "only a fool raises his voice in laughter". According to the "rule" a lot depends upon the abbot, and the monk must accept the abbot's ruling, fair or not, as an exercise in obedience and prayer.
I think the rule has relevance even to a modern, non-monastic Christian life, by offering a model of rhythm and simplicity. In this time of shaken confidence, the twelve steps of humility is a refreshing thought. The rule presents a challenge to the modern to "Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ".
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Hope in the LORD's mercy 8 Sept. 2000
By catherine guelph - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I enjoy this book very much. The founder of Western monasticism, born in Nursia near Spoleto, Italy, St Benedict (c-547) studied at Rome. He became convinced that the only way of escaping the evil in the world was in seclusion and religious exercise. So as a boy of 14 he withdrew to a cavern or grotto near Subiaco, where he lived for three years. The fame of his piety led to his being appointed the abbot of a neighbouring monastery at Vicovaro, but he soon left it, as the morals of the monks were not strict enough. Although it is anathema to think of ourselves as insignificant, and to acknowledge that we will indeed die, I found great spiritual strength in the perspective this grip of reality has developed. With respect to the universe, I, as an individual, am pretty small. Further, it is a biological fact that I will not live forever. Somehow, this provides the freedom for me to consider and accept everlasting life with an intense desire. Some of Benedict's rules are quite practical. I can understand where a community in close quarters would benefit. He writes, "First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul and all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39)...Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue...Place your hope in God alone. If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself, but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge." If you are interesting in the origins of the monasitic lifestyle, or are seeking to develop a stronger spiritual relationship, this book will be interesting to you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Lots of great lessons here. 18 Mar. 2008
By Joel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have the Vintage Spiritual Classics edition. I really like the Vintage Spiritual Classics series. They do a great job of presented the texts, and the covers are nice as well. The text of the rule was originally in Latin, the translation presented in this text is known as RB1980 which was translated by Timothy Fry.

The rule is not very long. In my copy the text of the rule takes 63 pages. The most interesting (and relevant) part of the rule is the first seven chapters. These chapters talk about the qualifications of the abbot, how a monk should go about his business, obedience, restraint in speech, humility etc. There is really great stuff in here!

Here's a great example of the kind of stuff in the rule: "Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when somebody needs your love. Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue."

I can't see anything there that requires you to be monk to benefit! Beyond the first seven chapters, there are very interesting things to be gleaned from the rule. The psalms are the heart of the monastic life, prayer the chief concern. The rule provides for spiritual guidance as well as how a group of men will get along living together every day.

On the whole I think the rule is fantastic. I have no desire to be a monk, I'd much rather be married :-) But I think we can learn from the rule and from the life of the monastics. I don't know that I would recommend you run out and buy the book, I'd say read the text online and see if you want to own a copy first.

Joel
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