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Benedict of Nursia (480-550) spent his life building and reforming monasteries and developing a manual, known as a Rule, which would stabilize the life of monks. Yet, although his “Rule” was intended for monks, the sixth chapter gives instructions on how to live a godly life which would apply to all Christians. [Some are directed to those living in the middle ages, such as 17, when not everyone received this, while others are beautiful brief statements of wisdom, such as 50.]
From chapter 6 of 73 chapters of the Rule of St. Benedict: “(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength. (2) Then, one’s neighbor as one’s self. (3) Then, not to kill. (4) Not to commit adultery. (5) Not to steal. (6) Not to covet. (7) Not to bear false witness. (8) To honor all people. (9) And what one would not have done to himself, not to do to another. (10) To deny one’s self in order to follow Christ. (11) To chastise the body. (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. (17) To bury the dead. (18) To help those in trouble. (19) To console the sorrowing. (20) To hold one’s self aloof from world 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 one swear falsely. (28) To speak the truth with heart and tongue. (29) Not to return evil for evil. (30) To do no injury, even more, to bear patiently the injury done to us. (31) To love one’s enemies. (32) Not to curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them. (33) To bear persecution for justice sake. (34) Not to be proud. (35) Not to be given to wine. (36) Not to be a great eater. (37) Not to be drowsy. (38) Not to be slothful. (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. (60) To hate one’s own will. (61) To obey the commands of the Abbot [the leader of the monks] in all matters, even though he himself (which Heaven forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: ‘What they say, do; what they do, do not do’ (Mat 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 strive. (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.”
©2006 Mark Nickens
Questions/comments contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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