Three dozen monks affiliated with Saint Vincent Archabbey, and 45 Oblates—lay persons who strive to live a similar life—have contributed to a new book of commentaries on the Rule of Saint Benedict, founder of western monasticism. The Rule of Saint Benedict is a guide written in the sixth century that contains instructions for living in a monastery, spiritual wisdom on the basic monastic virtues of humility, silence, and obedience, as well as directives for daily living. Newly-released, The Rule in Bits and Pieces addresses how to apply these tenets to modern-day life.
The book includes over 140 reflections covering each chapter of the Rule. Father Donald Raila, O.S.B., the director of Oblates at Saint Vincent Archabbey, collected each reflection and edited the book. Published by Sacred Winds Press of Augusta, Missouri, the 268-page book is available in both hardcover ($31.95) and softcover ($19.95).
Each contributor has brought to the book his or her unique understanding of the power of the Rule as a tool for directing daily 21st century lives toward balance and fullness in Christ. Through this diversity of writings, Abbott Jerome Kodell, O.S.B. of Subiaco Abbey believes that readers “will be impressed at the way the Rule can speak to various ways of life.”
The Rule is traditionally read in 122 sections; thus, a monastic community or an Oblate works through the small book three times a year, reflecting on one small segment of the book. It is “a book of Christian wisdom, based largely on Scripture as well as on several centuries of monastic tradition,” said Father Donald. “It is to be savored, prayed over, and lived out.
“Indeed, there are many regulations,” Father Donald said. “But these are not generally followed literally today; many of them could not be. However beneath the regulations and beneath all the passages of the Rule are underlying values which remain relevant for monks and Oblates today. The purpose of reading the Rule is not so much to establish rules for oneself (although in some cases that may be a praiseworthy outcome) as to encounter God, to listen to God, and to participate in his loving plan wholeheartedly.”