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Congregational Structure

The monasteries are, in nearly every case, separate independent units, but are grouped together in Congregations, corresponding in most cases to the various nationalities. The particulars of the various existing Congregations are not of general interest to the reader and need not be elaborated here.

Each Congregation has its own particular constitutions and customs, differing in greater and less degree in non-essential features of the Holy Rule. Thus the Benedictines do not, and never have, formed an Order in the literal and technical meaning of the term. They have no General as other religious bodies, nor are the monks of the separate monasteries, in most cases, liable to be changed from one house to another, even within the same Congregation.

These special characteristics are easily discernible in the pages of the Rule, but, nevertheless, there are some important features of modern monastic life which might cause the superficial observer to imagine that it is unrecognizable when compared with its original pattern of St. Benedict's own day. Such an idea is in reality very far indeed from actual truth, and closer examination of essentials reveals a different picture.

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