The Order of Saint Benedict

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Lectio Divina

Excerpts from the Rule of Benedict


Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading (lectione divina). RB, 48:1.

From Easter to the first of October, . . . [f]rom the fourth hour until the time of Sext, they will devote themselves to reading. But after Sext and their meal, they may rest on their beds in complete silence; should a brother wish to read privately, let him do so, but without disturbing the others. RB, 48:3-5.

From the first of October to the beginning of Lent, the brothers ought to devote themselves to reading until the end of the second hour. . . . [A]fter their meal they will devote themselves to their reading or to the psalms. RB, 48:10, 13.

During the days of Lent, they should be free in the morning to read until the third hour. . . . During this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through. These books are to be distributed at the beginning of Lent. RB, 48:14-16.

Above all, one or two seniors must surely be deputed to make the rounds of the monastery while the brothers are reading. Their duty is to see that no brother is so apathetic (acediosus) as to waste time or engage in idle talk to the neglect of his reading, and so not only harm himself but also distract others. RB, 48: 17-18.

On Sunday all are to be engaged in reading except those who have been assigned various duties. If anyone is so remiss and indolent that he is unwilling or unable to study or to read, he is to be given some work in order that he may not be idle. RB, 48:22-23.

[F]or anyone hastening on to the perfection of the monastic life, there are the teachings of the holy Fathers, the observance of which will lead him to the very heights of perfection. What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life? Or what book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator? Then, besides the Conferences of the Fathers, their Institutes and their Lives, there is also the rule of our holy father Basil. For observant and obedient monks, all these are nothing less than tools for the cultivation of virtues. RB, 73:2-6.


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