Introduction to the Rule of Benedict (RB)

Table of Contents

A. The Development of Monasticism Before Benedict

B. The Context of Benedict’s Rule and the Rule of the Master

C. The Organization of the Rule of Benedict.

  1. The Prologue
  2. The Kinds of Mons and the Abbot: RB 1-4, 64
  3. Obedience, Quiet, and Humility: RB 5, 6, 7
  4. The Liturgical Section: RB 9-20, 52
  5. The Discipline of Those at Fault: RB 23-30, 43-46
  6. The Goods of the Monastery and the Manager: RB 21-22, 31-42, 47-51, 53-57, 65
  7. The Reception of New Members, Priests, and Other Monks: RB 58-63
  8. The End of the Rule: RB 66-73

D. A history of the Rule: Its Tex and Translations

E. Recommendations for Reading: Selected Chapters from the Rule

F. A Short Bibliography 

St. Benedict of Nursia creates his Rule for Monks around 530. Though some have seen him as the founder of western monasticism, the reality is more complicated. Benedict comes after more than two centuries of monastic development, and he sifts through the tradition to create what he calls  “this smallest Rule written down for beginners.” Some 25 monastic rules appear in the late Roman Empire, and the RB does not become the standard for all monastic communities until the Synod of Aachen (816-819).

A.      The Development of Monasticism Before Benedict

The monastic movement emerges just before 313 when Constantine makes Christianity a legitimate religion in 313. Already in 270, St. Anthony the Great (251-356) has gone out alone into the Egyptian desert to wage single combat with the devil. The word “monk” comes from the Greek monos, meaning “only one” or “alone.” More specifically, Anthony also becomes a hermit or anchorite—words that come from the Greek meaning “desert” and “withdraw,” respectively. Anthony lives to be 105 years old, and St. Athanasius writes a biography that celebrates his great asceticism and victory over the demonic forces. It makes Anthony the great icon of eremitical monasticism.

With martyrdom no longer a possibility as the heroic expression of the Christian life, many men and women go to the desert to become hermits. They settle around recognized abbas and ammas (fathers and mothers) who serve as spiritual guides. These hermits hand on their insights in short sayings that later generations collected and organized into The Sayings of the Fathers [and Mothers] of the Desert.

St. Pachomius also goes to the desert, but rather than remaining alone, he gathers his followers into communities to live a “common life,” which translates the Greek kenos (common) bios (life: biography, biology). As a result, they are known as cenobites who live in a coenobium. While hermits can establish their own way of doing things, those living a common life must have some guidelines about when and how to pray and eat, work and sleep, as well as other common issues that arise with living together. So, Pachomius writes the first monastic rule for his community. Hundreds of people come, and the women gather around Pachomius’ sister, Mary, in their own monastery. At his death in 348, Pachomius has organized these cenobites into associations of monasteries, called the “Koinonia” (“Community”).

St. Basil the Great, from a family of saints, writes the classic monastic documents for the eastern Church: the Small Ascetikon and the Great Ascetikon, also called the Shorter Rules and the Longer Rules. These rules contain a list of questions to which Basil gives shorter or longer answers. Rufinus translates the Small Ascetikon into Latin, which has an important impact on the West and on Benedict.

The first question asks about God’s commandments, and Basil answers with the great commandment to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, which becomes his central theme. Very quickly, Basil shows his preference for cenobitic monasticism. To Question 3, he outlines the advantages of living with others: 1) our dependence on others for the basic needs of life, 2) our need for others to point out our faults, 3) our need to belong to a community as the Body of Christ, 4) our need for others who possess different gifts, especially those from the Holy Spirit. As Basil sees it, the hermit’s isolation from others makes the practice of charity difficult, if not impossible. The hermits would argue that hospitality serves as their charity toward others. For Basil, charity is the center of the Christian life, which he does not distinguish from the monastic life.

Several monastic rules, for both men and women, are attributed to St. Augustine (354-430), who lived a monastic life before becoming bishop of Hippo. As bishop, he gathers his clergy into a community and composes for them a very short rule that scholars identify with the Praeceptum, which is easily found online. Like Basil, Augustine emphasizes charity and the common good, to which he added an emphasis on common ownership with its corollary, the equality of the members. Both Basil and Augustine, with their emphasis on community, have an important impact on Benedict and his Rule.

John Cassian (360-435) brings the eremitical tradition from Egypt to France. His Institutes describe his vision of monasticism. In the Conferences, Cassian provides 24 talks, which, he says, he and his friend Germanus hear from the great abbas of the time. Abba Moses gives the first two—the first on the monastic life and the second on discretion. In Conferences Nine and Ten, Abba Isaac speaks about prayer with a particular emphasis on repetitive prayer: the practice of repeating a word or phrase to focus on God. Like his teacher, Evagrius, Cassian sought union with God, which comes with “purity of heart.”

B.      The Context of Benedict’s Rule and the Rule of the Master

The sack of Rome in 410 marks the triumph of the barbarian invasion and the decline of the Roman empire. Monasteries, notably those of Eugippius and Cassiodorus, provide places of learning amid the disintegration. A number of monastic rules emerge during this time, including the Rule of the Master, abbreviated RM. We do not know the name of the author, so scholars have named him “the Master” from the Latin magister, meaning “master, teacher.”

This rule, the longest and most detailed, sets out a vision focused on getting to heaven. It makes the abbot the micro manager of the community and regards everything with a suspicious and wary eye. Life is a struggle against sin, the flesh, and the power of the devil. The Master emphasizes obedience, silence, and humility as ways of fighting “self-will,” which reflects resistance to the will of God, revealed by the abbot.

Until recently, scholars thought that RM was a later version of the RB, but in 1937, a French monk proposed that Benedict took much of his Rule from the Rule of the Master. This was monastic heresy for many who saw Benedict as a great original genius. However, the careful scholarship of Adalbert de Vogüé and others (mostly Benedictines) has proved that Benedict, in fact, relied on the Master’s Rule, especially in the earlier parts of his rule.

As a result, we can compare the two and see how Benedict cuts, changes, or adds to the Master’s Rule. However, the Master is not the only influence on Benedict. Coming 200 years after Anthony the Great, he shows the influence of Basil the Great, Augustine, John Cassian, and others. Rather than being an original genius, Benedict proves to be a wise genius who winnows the tradition and finds a middle way.

C.      The Organization of the Rule of Benedict

1.       The Prologue

The Prologue opens with a call for the reader to listen to the Teacher’s instruction, and “gladly accept, and carry out in full the counsel of a loving Father” (P 12). After urging the reader to turn this teaching into deeds, Benedict concludes with a line from the Master, calling for the establishment of “a school of the Lord’s service.” Then, Benedict adds his own words and shows us what is central to his vision:

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. (P 46-49)

This addition reveals Benedict’s humanity and moderation, which are hallmarks of the RB. Early manuscripts changed the word conversatio to conversio—conversion, but conversatio means “to turn continually” and refers to a way of life. Benedict uses the word in several ways to capture the turning of a person’s life day by day into a recognizable monastic witness.

2.       The Kinds of Monks and the Abbot: RB 1-4, 64

The first seven chapters serve as a theological foundation for the rest of the RB. Benedict draws them largely from the Master, but he continually reshapes the material to make it his own.

The opening chapter discusses the kinds of monks. Though it sets hermits above the others, it also states that no one should retire to a life of solitude unless they have first proved themselves by living the common life. Despite his praise, Benedict does not mention hermits again but focuses on the cenobites who live a common life because they are “the strongest kind“ of monks. He mentions two other types: the Sarabaïtes and the gyrovagues. “Whatever [the Sarabaïtes] think and choose, they call holy, and whatever they do not want, they consider unlawful” (1.9). The gyrovagues constantly move from one monastery to another, looking for a free meal.

The Rule has two chapters on the abbot. In RB 2, Benedict reworks the Master’s chapter to create a caring and attentive superior. The abbot must make no distinction between persons based on their status in society before coming to the monastery. He is to show equal love to all (2.22). He must not overlook faults but should deal with each person individually. Rather than calling on the monk to conform to the abbot, Benedict says that the abbot must “conform and adapt himself to all according to the character and intelligence of each person” (2.32).

In RB 3, Benedict calls on the abbot to seek the counsel of the community in all important matters. The whole community should assemble “because often the Lord reveals to the younger what is better” (3.3). For less important matters, he should consult the seniors.

RB 64, which has no parallel in RM, calls for the election of the abbot by the community or a smaller group “with sounder judgment.” Benedict then describes the ideal leader. He grounds this vision in the Greek understanding of virtue as standing in the middle. Generosity means being neither stingy nor close-fisted but somewhere between them. However, the middle is not always halfway but shifts depending on the context. Therefore, Benedict calls discretion, the ability to find the middle, “the mother of virtues” (64.19). Words such as prudence, balance, reason, and consideration appear throughout the Rule to undergird this theme.

The chapter also insists that it is more important for the abbot “to be for others than to be over them” (64.8). Therefore, “he should always ‘exalt mercy over judgment’ so that he himself may find mercy” (64.10; Jas 2:13). In correcting monks, the abbot should “act prudently … lest in his excessive desire to scrape off the rust, he breaks the pot.” The Rule also reminds the abbot that he is not above the Rule and must answer to God for the responsibility given to him. Commentators see RB 64 as one of the most important chapters in the Rule.

Chapter 4 lists 74 good works that monks should work on. Though a few may belong particularly to the monastic life, the list has much to recommend to everyone.

3.       Obedience, Quiet, and Humility: RB 5, 6, 7

Chapters 5, 6, and 7 deal with the three virtues important to the Master: obedience, quiet, and humility. The Master demands a submissive, even servile, attitude from his monks. Benedict deletes much of the Master’s text and mitigates the remainder in various ways to achieve a better balance. Obedience and humility can be dangerous virtues.

The word “obedience” has its roots in ob+audire – “to hear” (audio), and Benedict ties obedience to “listening,” which is the opening word of his Rule. Everyone who truly listens with ear, eye, and heart knows how to respond. Quiet becomes the context for listening.

The chapter on humility begins with John Cassian’s list of the 10 marks of humility (Institutes, 4.39). The Master reshapes these marks into a ladder of 12 rungs (RM10): the first rung calls the monk to keep the fear of God ever before his eyes; rungs two to four focus on obedience; rungs five to seven deal with humility proper. The eighth rung makes the Rule itself and the example of the older members the standard of life. Rungs nine to eleven call for quiet and no foolishness, and the last rung says that a person of true humility reveals that in every aspect of life. This brings a person to the love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Benedict adds that the monk will now live not out of dread but for the love of Christ. Humility should bring a person to perfect love.

Michael Casey, OCSO, makes modern sense of this difficult chapter in his book: A Guide to Living in the Truth. Casey argues that humility does not mean being a doormat or putting yourself down. Rather, true humility is the radical acceptance of the truth about myself—both the good and the bad, not just the bad. As such, humility is bound to the cross, the great Christian image of reality. Only by embracing the cross can a person come to resurrection.

4.       The Liturgical Section: RB 9-20, 52

The section on the community’s prayer follows in RB 9-20. Though the Master deals with this much later in his rule, Benedict has placed it second to underline its importance.

These chapters describe the common prayer of the monastery. The two most important times are morning and evening prayer, called Matins or Lauds and Vespers. During the day, the monks pray briefly at the first, third, sixth, and ninth hours. The community says Compline right before bed, and during the night, they rise for the longest prayer, Vigils. Earlier, monastic communities rose at midnight for Vigils, but Benedict pushes it later so that monks, as he says, can digest their food. In reality, the later hour of 2:30 a.m. gives them time to get the deep sleep they need.

RB 19 and 20 give some basic guidance about prayer. Benedict says that prayer should be made “with all humility and pure devotion” and, following John Cassian, “with purity of heart” “so that our minds may be in harmony with our voices.” He calls this communal prayer “the Work of God” (Opus Dei), for it is both the work that the community does in service to their Creator and also the work that God performs on the individuals to conform them to Christ. As a result, the church or oratory of the monastery should be reserved for prayer alone (RB 52).

5.       The Discipline of Those at Fault: RB 23-30, 43-46

Benedict has had enough experience with people to know that some people can “be stubborn or disobedient or proud or a murmurer”; they may oppose “the Holy Rule” or “despise the instructions of his seniors.” Benedict pointedly condemns murmuring because this negative gossiping undermines a community’s goodwill (34.6).

As in Matt. 18:15-20, the senior monks should counsel the individual privately a first and second time. If a person does not change, he should “be subject to excommunication if he understands the nature of that punishment” (23:4). For Benedict, the worst punishment comes with excommunication—being cut off from the community. This should bring people to their senses. Benedict recognizes that these faults can be more or less serious and that the superior must care for the person at fault “lest too much sadness swallow him up” (2 Cor 2:7; RB 27.3). The abbot may need to send another person secretly to console the person. Still, after everything has been done, Benedict recognizes that, in some sad situations, the abbot must expel a person for the sake of the common good (RB 28).

6.       The Goods of the Monastery and the Manager: RB 21-22, 31-42 47-51, 53-57, 65

RB 31 calls for the abbot to appoint a manager for the monastery “who is wise and mature in character, temperate, not forever hungry nor arrogant, not troubled nor hurtful, not late nor wasteful; rather, fearing God, he is to be like a father to the whole community” (31.1-2). In short, he is to be like the abbot. Twice, the chapter insists on the importance of humility for the manager lest he use his position for power rather than service. It also put under his protection those without power: the infirm, the young, the guests, and the poor (31.9). The Rule counsels him to regard all the monastery’s goods as “the consecrated vessels” of the church. This sentence sanctifies every dimension of life. The chapter reminds the manager several times that he is not the abbot, and RB 65 states the same for the prior. The language suggests that there had been problems in the past.

Benedict was absolutely against private ownership (RB 33). The monk must depend upon the abbot and monastery for everything. This mandate is different than St. Francis’ insistence on poverty. Benedict’s insistence falls on communal sharing and the common good. At the same time, the abbot must recognize the individual differences of the monks, their different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, the abbot should see that each monk should get what he needs.

Benedict recognizes that any group that cannot care for the sick is not a community. Therefore, he begins RB 36: “Before all and above all, they must take care of the sick in order to serve them truly as Christ.” Benedict sets aside a place for the sick and also a person to care for them “who is God-fearing, loving, and caring” (36.7). These innovations underline Benedict’s care for the individual.

Simplicity and moderation should characterize food, drink, and clothing. The monastic day divides into the Opus Dei – the Work of God (meaning the communal prayer in the oratory), lectio divina – divine reading (the slow reading of Scripture that forms the basis for private prayer), and manual labor. The balance among these shifts with the seasons. The summer requires more manual labor, and Lent receives more lectio divina than other times (RB 48).

In RB 49, Benedict says that “the life of a monk ought to have at all times the mark of Lenten observance,” but he recognizes that most do not have the strength for this. The purpose of Lent, however, is not just asceticism; rather, these Lenten practices should bring a person to “the joy of spiritual longing,” which “with the joy of the Holy Spirit,” should lead a person to the celebration of Easter.

Benedict calls the monks to treat three groups as Christ because each can cause problems: the abbot, the sick, and the guests. The abbot, who takes the place of Christ, can ask a monk to do something he doesn’t want to do. The sick are sick all day long and every day, and Benedict makes the service to them the service to Christ. Finally, guests come at all hours with various needs. The Master in his Rule is wary of guests, but Benedict shows none of this wariness to outsiders. Instead, he receives them as Christ “with all humanity” (53.9). So, when guests arrive at the gate of the monastery, the porter cries out “Thanks be to God!” or “Bless me!” because they come as Christ himself (66.3).

Finally, those who pursue a craft in the monastery should carry out their work with humility for the good of the monastery and not for their own self-importance (RB 57). The common good must take precedence.

7.       The Reception of New Members, Priests, and Other Monks: RB 58-63

RB 58 says the community should test those wanting to join to see whether they are persistent. If so, they should be given a place first in the guest house and then in the novitiate. The abbot should put them under the charge of “one skilled in gaining souls who should watch over them assiduously in everything” (58.6). The novice master must try to learn “whether he truly seeks God,” a phrase often taken as the short definition of the monastic life. Benedict then gives the following criteria for this judgment: “whether he is serious about the Work of God, obedience, and criticism.” The “Work of God” refers to the community’s prayer, obedience at this stage requires giving oneself to the life of the particular community, and criticism touches humility and living in the truth of oneself. “They should be told everything hard and difficult whereby one goes to God” (58.7-8).

The period of trial lasts for one year. Today in many monasteries, a yearlong novitiate is followed by three years of temporary commitment before a person makes solemn or perpetual vows. RB 58 calls for the monk to make vows of obedience, stability, and conversatio. Obedience is the gift of self to the community. Stability ties the person to a specific monastery. As is often said, a monastic vocation is not a call to a way of life but a call to a specific community and its realization of the tradition. Conversatio refers to the monastic way of life, and the vow pledges you to give yourself day by day, more and more, to this way of life. The monk makes his vows before the abbot and saints of the monastery, representing the larger Church already in heaven. After signing the document on the altar, the monk receives the monastic habit that reminds him of what he has vowed.

Unlike the Master, Benedict makes provisions for receiving priests and for ordaining monks for the service of the community. However, the Rule insists that they must keep the whole Rule and be examples of humility (RB 60, 62). Likewise, if monks from other monasteries want to join, the abbot receives them only if they are worthy and join with the permission of their previous abbot (RB 61).

8.       The End of the Rule: RB 66-73

Various commentators believe that RB 66 formed the first ending of the Rule with its call for reading the text often in the community.

RB 67 deals with monks traveling outside the monastery—a concern that appears elsewhere. Benedict’s insistence on monks being bound closely to the monastery becomes a problem for St. Francis and St. Dominic, who want to send their members out to preach and minister among the people of God wherever needed. As a result, they establish a new type of community with evangelical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

RB 68 deals with a monk being asked to do something he feels he cannot do. Benedict counsels against pride and defiance, but has the monk present his feelings at a proper time. Sometimes another can see potential that we cannot, so Benedict says that if the superior still believes the task possible, the monk, “confident in the help of God,” should “obey out of love.” Significantly, love becomes the ground of obedience.

RB 69-71 deal with relationships among members. Living together is not always easy, and tensions can arise. For this reason, Benedict has the Lord’s Prayer recited at the end of Lauds and Vespers (13.12-14). RB 71 calls for mutual obedience—the obedience of the members to each other. There are then four calls to obedience in the Rule: obedience to God, to the abbot, to the other members, and to oneself—the best part of oneself. By being attentive, the monk can anticipate what is needed.

RB 72 on the good zeal of monks summarizes the whole Rule. Five statements focus on the relationship to others. The most famous is perhaps the second: “Let them bear most patiently with one another’s weaknesses, whether of body or of character” (72.5). People can only change if we accept and love them as they are; even then, they may not change. Then “in love,” they are to “fear God.” After this, Benedict calls for the monks to “love their abbot with a sincere and humble love” (72.10). The person in charge is very vulnerable, and Benedict is careful to protect the abbot. Finally, the overriding goal is to “prefer nothing whatever to Christ” so that together He might bring us to everlasting life.

The final chapter of the Rule directs those “hurrying toward the perfection of conversatio” to read the Scriptures, the classics of monastic life by John Cassian, and Basil the Great. As for the present document, Benedict characterizes it as “this smallest Rule written down for beginners.” He does not offer it as a grand model of perfection, but only as a place to begin. Perhaps, because of that, the Rule of Benedict has served those inside and outside of monasteries for 1,500 years.

D.      A History of the Rule: Its Text and Translations

Though written around 530, the Rule of Benedict for almost 300 years is but one among some 25 monastic rules. People recognize its value and begin to copy it. The oldest extant copy, an English manuscript called Hatton 48, dates from the early eighth century.

Charlemagne, king from 768 to 814, unifies his kingdom around standard documents in law, liturgy, music, etc. He had the monks of Monte Cassino make him a copy of Benedict’s autograph and send it to Aachen. Monks from Reichenau make a copy that survives in the great Library of St. Gall as the best copy. The Synod of Aachen (816-819) decrees that the RB will be the only rule for all monastic communities.

While they accept this decision, their living tradition is much broader than what Benedict conceived. Carolingian monasteries have schools that train officials for the empire. Monks also serve the government, society, and the broader Church in various roles. Monasteries integrate the people of their neighborhoods into their work. As a result, monasteries adapt the RB to an already existing and vibrant tradition. Monks attempt to live the Rule more literally only with the Cistercian reform in the early 1100s. To do that, the Cistercians create a second group of monks, the lay brothers, who take care of the practicalities while the choir monks give themselves to prayer.

Gregory the Great wrote the only existing life of Benedict in the second book of his Dialogues. It includes a meeting between Benedict and his sister Scholastica, who was part of a monastic community of women. She famously prayed for a thunderstorm to prevent Benedict from returning to his monastery so that they spend a last night in holy conversation. Many women have lived and continue to live the monastic life shaped by this Rule. In the Middle Ages, they created feminine versions of the RB for themselves, and their life produced great saints such as St. Hilda, St. Hildegard, and St. Gertrude the Great, among others.

The suppression of monasteries in England and later in northern Europe broke the tradition, but it also brought about new foundations and a rethinking of monastic life and practice. Since Vatican II, Benedictine women, led by Joan Chittister, OSB, and Mary Collins, OSB, among others, have worked to give monastic life a new and broader vitality.

The 20th century also produced important monastic scholars: Adalbert de Vogüé, OSB, Aquinata Böckmann, OSB, Terrence Kardong, OSB, and Michael Casey, OCSO, among others. This translation stands on their modern scholarship.

Other modern translations exist. Those from the 20th century, such as RB 1980, offer the reader an idiomatic translation that speaks to the modern context. Recently, Judith Sutera, OSB, published a gender-neutral translation so that its many readers can hear an inviting voice. Each translation has its own value and audience.

This translation seeks a rather literal rendering of the Latin text that reflects its original cultural context. It preserves some Latin words, particularly conversatio. The early scribes replaced conversatio with conversio (conversion), but modern scholarship has restored the original word, which can mean the monastic way of life or the beginning of monastic life. To help readers recognize this keyword, I have left it untranslated so that readers can make their own judgment. The same is true for lectio divina – divine reading. Where possible, the text uses the same word for the Latin so that the reader can recognize the continuity. Benedict was not a great Latin stylist, and the translation reflects that reality. As a literal translation, it recognizes the distance between the world of the text and our world, and it demands that we work to discover a relationship between the two worlds.

The Rule of Benedict has been a foundational document for western culture since Benedict and the time of Charlemagne. Today it undergirds communities throughout the whole world. I hope this digital edition will make the RB available for those studying history and community living. Some things in this document belong to the early Middle Ages, but much transcends its time and holds a wisdom that can shape our search for community today.

E.       Recommendations for Reading: Selected Chapters from the Rule

If you want to read just parts of the Rule, I recommend the following:

  1. Begin with the Prologue and pay special attention to the opening.
  2. RB 72 is the Rule within the Rule. It deserves careful attention.
  3. RB 64 on the abbot lays out Benedict’s idea of an ideal human being. RB 2 contributes to this vision, and RB 3 balances the abbot’s authority with the community’s counsel.
  4. RB 4 lists 74 “tools of good works” that a monk should use; however, most of them are not particularly monastic but apply to Christians and to people in general.
  5. An initial reading of the chapters on obedience, quiet, and humility (RB 5-7) can easily misunderstand these virtues; however, 7.67-70 makes clear that the goal of humility is perfect love that casts out fear.
  6. In RB 19-20, Benedict gives a very brief introduction to prayer. There he points the reader toward the tradition, especially John Cassian’s teaching on prayer and purity of heart in Conferences 9 and 10.
  7. RB 58 along with the end of the Prologue (45-50): RB 58 provides a way for integrating new people into a community, and the end of the Prologue offers a succinct statement of monastic life.
  8. I call RB 31 on the manager the beautiful chapter because it celebrates humble service for the common good. The following chapters fill this out, especially RB 36 on the sick, which begins: “Before all and above all, they must take care of the sick in order to serve them truly as Christ.”
  9. RB 53 on the reception of guests fits with the sick because both must be treated as Christ together with the abbot. Benedict’s openness to guests reflects his openness to the larger world. He is not isolating himself or his community.
  10. RB 73 concludes the Rule and claims that this document is only “this smallest Rule written down for beginners” and recommends the Scriptures, the Conferences and Institutes of John Cassian, and the Rule of Basil the Great “hurrying toward the perfection of conversatio.

F.       Short Bibliography

Casey, Michael, OCSO. Strangers to the City: Reflections on the Beliefs and Values of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Paraclete Press, 2013.

Chittister, Joan, OSB. The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century. Crossroads, 2017. This commentary brings the perspective of a Benedictine woman who has served as the prioress of her community.

John Cassian. Conferences. Translated by Colm Luibheid. Paulist Press, 1985. A selection from the 24 conferences by the fathers of the desert to John Cassian and his monastic friend Germanus.

Kardong, Terrence G., OSB. Benedict’s Rule: A Translation and Commentary. The Liturgical Press, 1996. This scholarly commentary explores the relationship of the Rule to the tradition.

Stewart, Columba, OSB. Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition. Orbis Books, 1998. An introduction to the building blocks of monasticism.

Vogüé, Adalbert de, OSB. Reading Saint Benedict: Reflections on the Rule. Translated by Colette Friedlander. Cistercian Studies Series, 151. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Studies, 1994. Fr. Adalbert, one of the great scholars on the Rule, comments on the text for novices.


Fr. Harry Hagan, OSB
Feast of Saint Meinrad
21 January 2023


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