Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 1

There are 73 chapters in the Rule of Saint Benedict. As a novice Oblate I am to read a chapter per day. For this reason I am going to attempt to post a chapter a day.

I have, since starting in February, read through the Rule twice. I am not bragging, merely stating. The Rule is quite profound, and I have found the reflection lessons each month to be more beneficial than seeing a psychologist. Any way, here is Chapter 1.

The Kinds of Monks

There are clearly four kinds of monks.

First, there are the cenobites, that is to say, those who belong to a monastery, where they serve under and abbot.

Second, there are the anchorites or hermits, who have come through the test of living in a monastery for a long time, and have passed beyond the first fervor of monastic life.

Thanks to the help and guidance of many, they are now trained to fight against the devil.

They have built up their strength and go from the battle line in the ranks of their brothers to the single combat of the desert. Self-reliant now, without the support of another, they are ready with God's help to grapple single-handed with the vices of body and mind.

Third, there are the sarabaites, the most detestable kind of monks, who with no experience to guide the, no rule to try them as gold is tried in a furnace (Prov 27:21), have a character as soft as lead.

Still loyal to the world by their actions, they clearly lie to God by their tonsure.

Two or three together, or even alone, without a shepherd, they pen themselves up in their own sheepfolds, not the Lord's. Their law is what they like to do, whatever strikes their fancy.

Anything they believe in and choose, they call holy; anything they dislike, they consider forbidden.

Fourth and finally, there are the monks called gyrovagues, who spend their entire lives drifting from region to region, staying as guests for three or four days in different monasteries.

Always on the move, they never settle down, and are slaves to their own wills and gross appetites. In every way they are worse than the sarabaites.

It is better to keep silent than to speak of all these and their disgraceful way of life.

Let us pass by them, then, and with the help of the Lord, proceed to draw up a plan for the strong kind, the cenobites.


Here, Saint Benedict explains that there are four kinds of monks. The last two are detestable because they give into their desires and call whatever they like holy, and whatever they don't like unholy. They also are always moving from one place to another as opposed to just staying put.
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