The Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century AD, still holds great relevance for our lives today. Benedict’s wisdom and commentary has provided the foundation for Benedictine communities throughout the centuries, and continues to influence many of us in the community of St. Paul’s. Benedict’s rule calls us to a daily rhythm of listening, obedience, and conversion of life.
Here are some of the characteristics of Benedictine spirituality:
Grounded in Listening: For Benedict, the spiritual life was about listening to God—through prayer, Scriptures, the depths of our own experience, through listening to others in our community and the wider church.
Ordered by a rhythm of daily prayer that is Biblical and reflective: For Benedict, prayer had a particular structure and process. Monastic life was punctuated by the rhythms of prayer during the hours of each day. These prayers, which included the saying or chanting of the psalms, can be experienced in our Daily Office.
Lectiodivina involves contemplating what we read or hear in a Scripture, being receptive to the presence of God, and letting ourselves be transformed.
Rooted in Stability: Benedictine monks and nuns made a commitment to living in a specific location, within a specific community, as the context for their spiritual growth and development. The meaning of stability in our day and time refers to staying rooted where we are—in relationship with ourselves and with others, in order to grow in the spiritual life.
Conversion of Life: By listening and seeking stability of life, we strive to discern the new path that Christ is forever calling us to travel. Benedict called this lifelong process conversatiomorum or conversion of life.
Balance: Benedictines believe that the Christian life is best lived not through the extremes of any harsh religious asceticism but in the daily context of good, balanced life in community. No one thing—prayer, work, rest, study—was to be done in the extreme. Instead, holiness of life was to be found through the right balance of these elements in life.