Rule of St Benedict - Essay Example

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The Rule of St. Benedict Name: Institution: THE RULE OF ST. BENEDICT Introduction The Rule of St. Benedict is a precept book for monks living under an abbot’s authority in a community, which was authored by St. Benedict of Nursia. This set of rules became a guide for other monasteries around Western Europe in the one and a half centuries in which they existed…
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Download file to see previous pages The rule was authored to provide a guide for the formation of autonomous and individual communities, which Benedictine monasteries remain to this day. The emphasis laid on autonomy helped the monasteries to assume contemplative lifestyles and cultivate communities that were tightly bonded2. However, the monasteries also suffered from isolation from the communities that surrounded them, as well as increased inefficiency, declining appeal for potential recruits, and decreased mobility in serving others. Over the centuries, different emphasis on the rules led to the divergence of Ancient Observance, Cistercian Common Orders, and the Benedictine Confederation. St. Benedict, however, did not author the rules in a vacuum and it is evident that his work was heavily influenced by fading Athenian and Hebrew traditions present in medieval Europe at the time3. While this does not mean the rule was a throwback to the ancient times, there are various similarities. This paper seeks to compare the power relations and hierarchical structures in the early Benedictine monasteries and the governing of secular society at the time. The Benedictine Monastery as a Microcosm of Society as a Whole The Benedictine monastery under the Rule of St. ...
Similar to the society in which he lived, St. Benedict ordered that the monks were to eat two cooked dishes of food at every meal, as well as a pound of bread daily. In the summer, he insisted on two meals and one in the winter, which was the same thing that peasants did due to the scarcity of food in the winter. The monks were also ordered to retire to their boarding rooms for six to eight hours every evening, which is the same as peasants who were not supposed to wander around the towns at night5. The Rule of St. Benedict also perceived the need for government in a uniform and permanent form, rather than the variable and arbitrary models used by other monasteries before his6. This led to a form of collectivism that was no different to society as a whole. The rule insisted on a common life compared to the solitary life led by Egyptian monks. In furthering his aim, St. Benedict also introduced into his rule the vow of stability, which was to become the basis of the order’s permanence and success. This is just one example of his idea of the family as practiced in society that pervades the rule. Family ties bounded the members of his monastery, just like in society. In addition, the members of this family took upon the obligation of preserving the family, in this case the monastery, until they died. This aspect of the rule secured the community, as it did the family in society, with all member monks sharing in the fruits that arose from each of the monk’s labor. It also gave the monks the strength that comes from being part of a united family pursuing similar ends, which, in the case of society, meant subsistence farming and hunting. Therefore, like the defining Hebrew and Athenian society that was present at the time, the monks were part of a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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