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Monday, January 15, 2007


O God, Who didst vouchsafe to fill thy most blessed Confessor Benedict with the spirit of all the righteous: grant unto us thy servants that, being filled with the same spirit, we may faithfully accomplish that which Thou hast enabled. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, God, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

The Instruments of Good Works

First of all, to love the Lord God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength.
2. Then, to love our neighbour as ourself.
3. Then, not to kill.
4. Not to commit adultery.
5. Not to steal.
6. Not to be covetous.
7. Not to bear false witness.
8. To respect all men.
9. Not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
10. To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
11. To chastise the body.
12. Not to be fond of pleasures.
13. To love fasting.
14. To give refreshment to the poor.
15. To clothe the naked.
16. To visit the sick.
17. To bury the dead.
18. To come to the help of those in trouble.
19. To comfort those in sadness.
20. To become a stranger to the ways of the world.
21. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
22. To not give way to wrath.
23. Not to harbour anger for any time.
24. Not to foster deceit in the heart.
25. Not to make a false peace.
26. Not to depart from charity.
27. Not to swear at all, lest one forswears.
28. To speak the truth with heart and lips.
29. Not to return evil for evil.
30. Not to do an injury, but patiently to suffer one when done.
31. To love one's enemies.
32. Not to speak ill of those who speak ill of one, but rather to speak well of them.

33. To suffer persecution for justice's sake.
34. Not to be proud.
35. Not to be a winebibber.
36. Not to be a great eater.
37. Not to be given to sleep.
38. Not to be slothful.
39. Not to be a murmerer.
40. Not to be a detractor.
41. To put one's trust in God.
42. When one sees any good in oneself to attribute it to God, not to oneself.
43. That a man recognise that it is he who does evil, and so let him attribute it to himself.
44. To fear the day of judgement.
45. To be afraid of hell.
46. To desire life everlasting with entire spiritual longing.
47. To have the vision of death before one's eyes daily.
48. To watch over the actions of one's life every hour of the day.
49. To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
50. To dash at once against Christ (as against a rock) evil thoughts which rise up in the mind.
51. And to reveal all such to one's spiritual father.
52. To guard one's lips from uttering evil or wicked words.
53. Not to be fond of much talking.
54. Not to speak idle words, or such as move to laughter.
55. Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
56. Willingly to hear holy reading.
57. Often to devote oneself to prayer.
58. Daily with tears and sighs to confess to God in prayer one's past offences, and to avoid them for the future.
59. Not to give way to the desires of the flesh: and to hate one's own will.
60. In all things to obey the abbot's commands, even though he himself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, remembering Our Lord's precept, "What they say, do ye, but what they do, do ye not".
61. Not to wish to be called holy before one is so; but to be holy first so as to be called such with truth.
62. Daily in one's acts to keep God's commandments.
63. To love chastity.
64. To hate no man.
65. Not to be jealous or envious.
66. Not to love wrangling.
67. To show no arrogant spirit.
68. To reverence the old.
69. To love the young.
70. To pray for one's enemies for the love of Christ.
71. To make peace with an adversary before the sun sets.
72. And, never to despair of God's mercy.

Behold these are the tools of our spiritual craft; when we shall have made use of them constantly day and night, and shall have proved them at the day of judgement, that reward shall be given us by Our Lord, which He has promised, "which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God hath prepared for those that love him".

Steadfastly abiding in the community, the workshop where all these instruments are made use of is the cloister of the monastery.

This is chapter four of the Holy Rule of St Benedict. I have taken lately to reading a chapter or two of the Rule before sleep each night and have found it just the thing to set me in the right frame of mind for bed, especially as most nights nowadays, I shamefully do not say Compline. I use this particular chapter as a preparation for confession, and it is truly splendid for just this purpose. I very much loved the conversations that I used to have with my godfather in his car on the way to church but now that I make the 36-mile journey on the coach, I have much more time to focus on the spiritual preparation that goes along with the fast before Communion, and I wholeheartedly recommend St Benedict's Rule to anybody seeking some form of self-examination. It is truly humbling.


Anonymous said...

especially as most nights nowadays, I shamefully do not say Compline

Shock! Horror!

I always have the perennial question of do I say Vespers, then Compline, Vespers and Compline conjoined, or just Compline!

After speaking to Fr Stephen yesterday, I should like to find a confessor.

Ian said...

I've often thought about getting Benedict's Rule: I think I may now. Thank you for the selection from it and the encouragement towards it.

Orthodox Librarian said...

What a wonderful passage from the Rule of St Benedict. I have several editions of the Rule here at hand because it is so wise and helpful.

I am presently working on a study guide based on St Benedict's Rule, for the members of the British Orthodox Church. All Orthodox in the West should know him much better than most do.

Elzabet said...

Thank you for this list. I'm an "inquirer" and I've never read the Rule of St. Benedict; I think I shall add it to my list.

Kali Anastasi!