This is from the much longer, Rule of St. Benedict, a manual of guidance for a monastery, written in the early 500s AD. Though written a long time ago, the rules are a timeless challenge for those wanting to live a godly life. This short podcast is simply me reading the material.
It’s a totally subjective judgment on my part, but though I’m challenged by Johnathan Edwards Resolutions, somehow I find them a bit depressing and heavy-handed. But Benedict’s seem to come from a heart of love for God and his community. They were obviously written to make the community a reflection of the love of Jesus to each other and to their world. As you read them, think about how different would be the communities—family, school, church, our nations—if we attempted to put these words into practice.
We may not be able to change our larger community, but we can always change our hearts and actions and pray God will widen our influence.
Chapter IV: The Instruments of Good Works
(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole
(2) Then, one’s neighbor as one’s self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).
(3) Then, not to kill…(4) Not to commit adultery…(5) Not to steal…(6) Not to covet (cf Rom 13:9).(7) Not
to bear false witness (cf Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20).
(8) To honor all men (cf 1 Pt 2:17).
(9)And what one would not have done to himself, not to do to another (cf Tob 4:16; Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31).
(10) To deny one’s self in order to follow Christ (cf Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23).
(11) To chastise the body (cf 1 Cor 9:27).
(12) Not to seek after pleasures.
(13) To love fasting.
(14) To relieve the poor.
(15) To clothe the naked…
(16) To visit the sick (cf Mt 25:36).
(17) To bury the dead.
(18) To help in trouble.
(19) To console the sorrowing.
(20) To hold one’s self aloof from worldly ways.
(21)To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
(22) Not to give way to anger.
(23) Not to foster a desire for revenge.
(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.
(25) Not to make a false peace.
(26) Not to forsake charity.
(27) Not to swear, lest perchance one swear falsely.
(28) To speak the truth with heart and tongue.
(29) Not to return evil for evil (cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9).
(30) To do no injury, yea, even patiently to bear the injury done us.
(31) To love one’s enemies (cf Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27).
(32) Not to curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them.
(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10).
(34) Not to be proud…
(35) Not to be given to wine (cf Ti 1:7; 1 Tm 3:3).
(36) Not to be a great eater.
(37) Not to be drowsy.
(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).
(39) Not to be a murmurer.
(40) Not to be a detractor.
(41) To put one’s trust in God.
(42) To refer what good one sees in himself, not to self, but to God.
(43) But as to any evil in himself, let him be convinced that it is his own and charge it to himself.
(44) To fear the day of judgment.
(45) To be in dread of hell.
(46) To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.
(47) To keep death before one’s eyes daily.
(48) To keep a constant watch over the actions of our life.
(49) To hold as certain that God sees us everywhere.
(50) To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one’s heart.
(51) And to disclose them to our spiritual father.
(52) To guard one’s tongue against bad and wicked speech.
(53) Not to love much speaking.
(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.
(55) Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.
(57) To apply one’s self often to prayer.
(58) To confess one’s past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend
them for the future.
(59) Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).(60) To hate one’s own
(61) To obey the commands of the Abbot in all things, even though he himself (which Heaven
forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: “What they say, do ye; what they do, do
ye not” (Mt 23:3).
(62) Not to desire to be called holy before one is; but to be holy first, that one may be truly so called.
(63) To fulfill daily the commandments of God by works.
(64) To love chastity.
(65) To hate no one.
(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.
(67) Not to love strife.
(68) Not to love pride.
(69) To honor the aged.
(70) To love the younger.
(71) To pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.
(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun
(73) And never to despair of God’s mercy.
Behold, these are the instruments of the spiritual art, which, if they have been applied without
ceasing day and night and approved on judgment day, will merit for us from the Lord that reward
which He hath promised: “The eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither hath it entered into the
heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). But the workshop
in which we perform all these works with diligence is the enclosure of the monastery and stability
in the community.