“Listen my child with the ear of your heart.”
Prologue of Rule of Benedict
I write again about the Rule of Benedict. “Listen with the ear of your heart” is in the first line of the prologue to the Rule of Benedict, a pattern of living in community written by St. Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century during the dark ages, and is still used by Benedictines fifteen centuries later. The rule is a balanced model of life that is a radical alternative to a culture out of control. It was written for monastic life, but has been translated to a way of life for any seeking a pattern of spiritual discipline for living a rule of life in the world. The day is organized around regular periods of private and communal prayer, sleep, work, recreation, hospitality, and study.
Joan Chitister’s book, The Rule of Benedict, a Spirituality for the 21th Century is used by the Community of Hope International, a program equipping and supporting lay pastoral caregivers to be ministers to all conditions of people needing pastoral care. The Community of Hope International emphasizes developing skills and spiritual practices immersing ministers in Benedictine spirituality in community. Chitister’s book can be used privately or in group discussions of the rule. She writes a very helpful meditation and interpretation after each selected part of the rule that can be read in daily segments.
A busy Memphis lawyer, John McQuiston has written another concise modern interpretation of the Rule of Benedict called Always We begin Again that is pocket sized so it is easily carried with you during the day.
A third book is Spirituality for Everyday Living, an Adaptation of the Rule of St. Benedict by Brian Taylor. This is another offering to help those not living in a monastery to experience Benedict’s rule of obedience and stability in relationships with others. This is living in the balanced tension of the paradox of turning our lives over to a higher power but trying to stay in relationship with others and not staying stagnant but being able to change and grow.
Esther de Waal names it in the title of her book of reflections or meditations on Benedict’s Rule, Living with Contradiction. Esther de Waal also gives us in To Pause at the Threshold numerous Benedictine and Celtic reflections and prayers for us to practice when we cross a threshold of a door going from one room to another. She invites us to say a short prayer, trying to leave the “baggage” in our heads behind and being open to a new experience. This can be helpful when visiting the sick or homebound, as we enter their hospital room or front door.
There are so many other books on Benedictine spirituality, but these are five that have made a difference in my life and the ones I give to people seeking a more patterned or spiritual rule of life. Again, I would love to hear from you about the books on Benedictine spirituality that have made a difference in your life.