The Prologue

Listen, O my son, to the instructions of the Teacher, and bring near the ear of your heart. Gladly accept, and carry out in full the counsel of a loving Father, 2 so that you may return through the labor of obedience to the one from whom you have backed away through the idleness of disobedience.

3 To you, therefore, I now direct my words— whoever you may be—to you who renounce your own desires and take up the most powerful and magnificent weapons of obedience in order to fight for the Lord Christ, the true King.

4 First of all, when beginning any good work, beg him with most urgent prayer to bring it to completion 5 so that he who has already deigned to number us among his children may never be grieved by our evil deeds. 6 For at all times, he should find his good gifts evident in us so that not only may he never, as an angry father, disinherit his children, 7 but even more that he may not, as a dread lord, provoked by our evil deeds, hand us over as most wicked servants to everlasting punishment for refusing to follow him to glory.

8 Therefore, let us even now rise up since the Scripture rouses us, saying:

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

9 And with our eyes open to the deifying light, let us with attentive ears hear what the divine voice counsels us as it cries out daily and says:

10 If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts. (Ps 95:8)

11 And again:

Whoever has ears to hear,
let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. (Rev 2:7)

12 And what does he say?

Come, children, and hear me;
I shall teach you the fear of the Lord. (Ps 34:12)

13 Run while you have the light of life
that the darkness of death may not overtake you. (John 12:35)

14 And the Lord addresses these things to a great number of people, and, seeking among them his own workman, he says:

15 Who is there that longs for life
and desires to see good days? (Ps 34:13)

16 If hearing this, you reply, “I do!” then God says to you,

17 If you want to have true and everlasting life,

Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn from evil, and do good.
Seek peace, and pursue it. (Ps 34:14-15)

18 And when you have done these things,

my eyes will be upon you,
and my ears will be open to your prayers,
and before you call on me,
I shall say to you: ‘Look! I am here.’ (Ps 34:16; Isa 58:9)

19 What is sweeter to us, most beloved brothers, than this voice of the Lord inviting us? 20 Behold, in his loving devotion, the Lord shows us the way of life.

21 Therefore, having girded ourselves for battle with faith and the keeping of good works, let us, with the Gospel as our guide, go forward on his paths so that we may deserve to see him “who calls us into his kingdom” (1 Thes 2:12).

 22 If we want to dwell in the tent of his Kingdom, we can never reach it unless we run there by doing good works. 23 So let us with the Prophet ask the Lord, saying to him:

Lord, who shall dwell in your tent,
or who shall find rest on your holy mountain? (Ps 15:1)

24 After this question, brothers, let us hear the Lord responding and showing us the way to that very tent, 25 and saying:

The one who walks without fault and does justice;
26 who speaks the truth in his heart,
and has not used his tongue to deceive,
27 who has done no evil to his neighbor,
and has allowed no slander against his neighbor. (Ps 15:2-3)

28 This person, having driven from the horizon of his heart the devil with his wiles, has brought to nothing the begetter of evil and his every enticement. Taking hold of his thoughts while still small, he has dashed them against Christ. 29 Such people, fearing the Lord, do not allow their good observance to make them proud; rather they recognize that what is truly good in themselves is not what they are able do but what is done by God, 30 and so they magnify the Lord working in them, saying with the Prophet:

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name give the glory. (Ps 115:1)

31 Likewise, Paul the Apostle did not claim any credit for his preaching but said:

By the grace of God, I am what I am. (1 Cor 15:10)

32 And again as he says himself:

Whoever boasts should boast in the Lord. (2 Cor 10:17)

33 As a result, the Lord says in the Gospel:

The one who hears these, my words, and acts on them, will be like the wise man who built his house on rock; 34 and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. (Matt 7:24–25)

35 Having finished with these words, the Lord waits for us daily to respond to his holy counsel, as we must, by our deeds. 36 Therefore, the days of this life are lengthened as a time of truce for the correction of these evil deeds, 37 according to the saying of the Apostle:

Do you not know that the patience of God is leading you to repentance? (Rom 2:4)

38 For the loving Lord says:

I do not want the death of the sinner,
but that he should be converted and live. (Ezek 33:11)

39 Therefore, brothers, now that we have asked the Lord about the one who is to dwell in his tent and have heard the instruction for dwelling there, we shall dwell there – but only if we fulfill the dweller’s duties. 40 Therefore, we must get our hearts and bodies ready to fight the battle of holy obedience to his commands. 41 And let us beg God to command that the help of his grace assist us with what is barely possible for us by nature. 42 And if we want to flee the punishment of hell and reach life everlasting, 43 then, while there is still time and we are in this body and are able to fulfill all these things by this life of light, 44 we must run and act in a way that will set us free forever.

45 Therefore, we must establish a school of the Lord’s service. 46 As for its method of instruction, we hope to establish nothing harsh or burdensome, 47 but if reason and fairness dictate being a little stricter to correct faults or to preserve love, 48 do not then and there become daunted by fear and run from the way of salvation. There is no beginning except a narrow beginning. 49 But, when you have advanced in conversatio and in faith, you will run with your heart enlarged and with the unspeakable sweetness of love on the way of God’s commands.

50 And so, never departing from his instruction but persevering in his teaching until death in the monastery, let us by patient endurance share in the sufferings of Christ, so that we may also merit to be partakers of his Kingdom.



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The Rule of Benedict by Saint Meinrad Archabbey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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