Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not Established in This Rule, May 1, 2017

May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule

Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.

But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil —
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.

Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God’s protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.

Some thoughts:
Every time I get to this chapter, I am always astounded that Benedict calls his Rule “the rudiments of the religious life.” This is because I am sure that I will never achieve the degree of humility, good works, patience, temperance or ever stop grumbling and muttering. How about you? I feel too trapped by my humanness to ever achieve a holy life.
Then I remember the cads and scoundrels of the Hebrew Scriptures: thieves, liars, cheats, adulterers etc who are beloved of God and whose names are in the roll call of the saints in Hebrews 11.
Perhaps also it makes our lives holy just to engage in the struggle?

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