In existence for 1,500 years, the Rule of Saint Benedict has become the leading guide in Western Christianity for monastic living in community, but it is also a practical guide that can be used to help everyone establish and maintain loving relationships with God, with others, with the material world, and with one’s own self. As the whole person is made up of body, mind, and spirit, the Rule is written for a life that recognizes that the three elements should be affirmed in a balanced life of prayer, study, and work. The spirit of the Rule is summed up in the motto of the Benedictine Confederation – pax (“peace”) and the traditional ora et labora (“pray and work”).
From the opening words, “Listen my son to the instructions of your Master, turn the ear of your heart to the advice of a loving father;” through the instructions on hospitality, community, humility, prayer, work, compassion, and obedience; to the final words of Chapter LXXII – “They should prefer nothing to Christ. May He bring us all alike to life everlasting.” – the Rule serves as a roadmap to a relationship with God and those in the communities in which one lives – family, school, church, neighborhood, etc.
The Rule is one based on moderation and reasonableness, with an understanding not just of the capabilities of human nature but also its weaknesses.