Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict, September 2, 2016

Prologue (January 2, May 3, September 2)

Let us arise, then, at last,

for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,

“Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep” (Rom. 13:11).

Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,

let us hear with attentive ears

the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,

“Today if you hear His voice,

harden not your hearts” (Ps. 94[95]:8).

And again,

“Whoever has ears to hear,

hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).

And what does He say?

“Come, My children, listen to Me;

I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Ps. 33[34]:12).

“Run while you have the light of life,

lest the darkness of death overtake you” (John 12:35).

Some thoughts

The Scripture references sure are piled on top of each other. The RB

is something like 95% Scripture. The reason for the piling of verse on

top of verse lies in the way people “knew” Scripture back in

Benedict’s day. They memorized copious portions. The very first

monastics, the Desert Christians (4th century CE), for example, prayed the Psalter over and over from memory. Before the invention of the printing press, there was only the labor intensive method of hand copying. So if a person wanted to “know” something, it had to be memorized. What would happen, is exactly what we see here in the RB: one verse recalls to mind another verse and then another. They evoke each other.

If we were to memorize Scripture like this, would it make it more

valuable to us? Do we sometimes take it for granted because we can

pick up a Bible and read it whenever we want?

One word that is repeated over and over is “hear” in various forms.

The very first word of the RB is “listen” and Benedict tells us of all

to which we must listen. We must truly hear, truly listen. To the

ancient mind, the spoken word had power: inherent, effective,

inexorable which created a response in the one who hears. We see this belief in the power of the spoken word right there in Genesis 1. God said “Let there be” and there it was. John 1 writes of Jesus as the Word that was spoken. Those who hear Him are changed.

God speaks to us every day. He calls out to us, invites us. It is to

God’s voice that Benedict would have us listen.

What are the effects of listening to and hearing God? What are the

images that Benedict uses?

What are the warnings?


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