|St. Benedict of Nursia: On the
Tools for Good Works (RB Ch. 4)
|First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul and all your
strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:
27). Then the following: You are not to kill, not to commit adultery; you are not to steal
nor to covet (Rom 13:9); you are not to bear false witness (Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19;
Luke 18:20). You must honor everyone (1 Pet 2:17), and never do to another what you
do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16; Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31).
Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ (Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23); discipline your
body (1 Cor 9:27); do not pamper yourself but love fasting. You must relieve the lot of
the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick (Matt 25:36), and bury the dead. Go to help
the troubled and console the sorrowing.
Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must
come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid you heart of
all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs
your love. Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart
Do not repay one bad turn with another (1 Thess 5:15; 1 Pet 3:9). Do not injure anyone,
but bear injuries patiently. Love your enemies (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27). If people curse
you, do not curse them back but bless them instead. Endure persecution for the sake
of justice (Matt 5:10).
You must not be proud, nor given to wine (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3). Refrain from too much
eating or sleeping, and from laziness (Rom 12:11). Do not grumble or speak ill of
Place your hope in God alone. If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to
God, not to yourself, but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and
yours to acknowledge.
Live in fear of judgment day and have a great horror of hell. Yearn for everlasting life
with holy desire. Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die. Hour by hour
keep careful watch over all you do, aware that God’s gaze is upon you, wherever you
may be. As soon as wrongful thoughts come into your heart, dash them against Christ
and disclose them to your spiritual father. Guard your lips from harmful or deceptive
speech. Prefer moderation in speech and speak no foolish chatter, nothing just to
provoke laughter; do not love immoderate or boisterous laughter.
Listen readily to holy reading, and devote yourself often to prayer. Every day with
tears and sighs confess your past sins to God in prayer and change from these evil
ways in the future.
Do not gratify the promptings of the flesh (Gal 5:16); hate the urgings of self-will. Obey
the orders of the abbot unreservedly, even if his own conduct–which God forbid–be
at odds with what he says. Remember the teaching of the Lord: Do what they say, not
what they do (Matt 23:3).
Do not aspire to be called holy before you really are, but first be holy that you may
more truly be called so. Live by God’s commandments every day; treasure chastity,
harbor neither hatred nor jealously of anyone, and do nothing out of envy. Do not
love quarreling; shun arrogance. Respect the elders and love the young. Pray for
your enemies out of love for Christ. If you have a dispute with someone, make peace
with him before the sun goes down.
And finally, never lose hope in God’s mercy.
–RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes, ch. 4, pp. 181-185