Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Author's Preface

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pp. xi-xviii

Sometime in the spring of 1992, I decided to write this commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict. Strange as it may seem, no American had ever produced a complete, line-by-line study of the Holy Rule. Even though the Benedictines came to these shores 150 years ago, up to this time few of them have devoted themselves to systematic study of the ancient Rule they live by...

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RB Prologue

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pp. 1-26

1. Listen, O my son, to the teachings of your master, and turn to them with the ear of your heart. Willingly accept the advice of a devoted father and put it into action. 2. Thus you will return by the labor of obedience to the one from whom you drifted through the inertia of disobedience. 3. Now then I address my words to you: whoever is willing to renounce self-will, and take up...

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Prologue Overview

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pp. 26-33

The Prologue is generally considered one of the finest parts of Benedict’s Rule. From its first words, “Listen, O my son!”, it features stirring and memorable sayings that have become part of the Benedictine heritage. While the Prologue has always been a rich source for monastic sermons and devotional works, the purpose here is to clarify the literary, historical and doctrinal features of the treatise...

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RB 1

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pp. 33-42

1. It is clear that there are four kinds of monks. 2. The first are the cenobites, who live in monasteries and serve under a rule and an abbot. 3. The second kind are the anchorites, that is, hermits. Their observance is no mere novice-fervor, but the result of long testing in a monastery. 4. Community support has taught them how to battle the devil...

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RB 1 Overview

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pp. 42-45

RB 1: The Kinds of Monks, is a curious taxonomy of the various forms of ancient monastic life. Although the Rule that follows will legislate for one kind only, namely, a group of cenobites, this list seems to be an attempt to situate cenobitism in the monastic landscape of that day. The main distinction, of course, is with anchoritism...

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RB 2

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pp. 45-62

1. The abbot who is worthy of ruling a monastery ought always to remember what he is called; he should live up to the name of superior by his actions. 2. He is believed to represent Christ in the monastery, for he is called by his name 3. in accord with the saying of the Apostle: “You have received the Spirit of adoption of children, in which we cry: ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom 8:15)...

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RB 2 Overview

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pp. 62-69

RB 2 greatly resembles the corresponding treatise of the Master (RM 2) on the abbot, and we assume here, along with most contemporary scholars, that Benedict has copied RM and not vice versa. Our approach will be to present a summary of RM 2 and then show how Benedict has modified his source. We will follow the analysis of Vogüé 3.65-159, English, although...

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RB 3

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pp. 69-75

1. As often as important questions have to be dealt with in the monastery, the abbot should convene the whole community and himself tell them what is involved. 2. When he has heard the advice of the brothers, let him ponder the matter and then do what he thinks best. 3. Now the reason why we said that all are to be convened is that the Lord often reveals what is best to the younger. ..

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RB 3 Overview

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pp. 75-79

After his long, repetitive chapter on the abbot, Benedict presents a much shorter treatise on one aspect of the abbatial role, namely, taking counsel with the community. In creating a separate chapter on this topic, Benedict differs from the Master, whose discussion exists at the end of the abbatial treatise (RM 2.41-52)...

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RB 4

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pp. 79-96

1. First, to love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength, 2. then, your neighbor as yourself, 3. then, not to kill, 4. not to commit adultery, 5. not to steal, 6. not to covet, 7. not to give false witness, 8. to honor all persons 9. and not to do to another what you do not want done to yourself. 10. Deny yourself in order to follow Christ...

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RB 4 Overview

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pp. 96-102

A mere glance at RB 4 shows that it is quite unlike what precedes it. After fairly discursive and well-developed literary units in the Prologue and the first three chapters, we have here what appears to be a mere list of maxims. If this list has a structure or a logic, it does not easily reveal itself...

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RB 5

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pp. 102-113

1. The basic road to progress for the humble person is through prompt obedience. 2. This is characteristic of those who hold Christ more precious than all else. 3. For that reason, on account of the holy service they have professed, and because of the fear of hell and the glory of eternal life, 4. as soon as something is commanded by the superior...

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RB 5 Overview

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pp. 113-118

RB 5 on obedience is a chapter that requires very close analysis. The immediate impression it makes on the modern reader is somewhat problematic, since it seems to call for absolute, unquestioning submission to an all-powerful authority. Recent history has illustrated well enough the abuses that can arise from such a system...

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RB 6

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pp. 118-123

1. Let us do what the Prophet says: “I said: ‘I will guard my ways so as not to sin with my tongue. I placed a guard at my mouth. I was speechless and humiliated, refraining even from good speech.’” 2. Here the Prophet shows that if we sometimes ought to refrain from speaking good words on account of the intrinsic value of silence...

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RB 6 Overview

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pp. 124-129

RB 6 on silence is a very short treatise on an important monastic topic. Readers who expect material on the relationship of silence to prayer or mysticism will be disappointed, since the approach is almost entirely geared to the avoidance of bad speech. Since Benedict has heavily remodeled a considerable amount of material from the Rule of the Master on this topic...

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RB 7

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pp. 129-160

1. Brothers, the Holy Scripture cries out to us, saying: Whoever is self-promoting will be humbled, and whoever is humble will be promoted. 2. When it says this, it shows us that all self-promotion is a kind of pride. 3. The Prophet shows that he avoids this when he says: Lord, my heart is not lifted up, nor are my eyes fixed on the heights. I have not mixed myself in great affairs nor in things too wonderful for me...

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RB 7 Overview

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pp. 160-168

RB 7 Overview The large chapter on humility contains much that needs careful interpretation. Not only is the value of humility little appreciated in our society, but there has been a lack of serious examination of the biblical dimensions of this virtue. Moreover, Benedict’s chapter on humility is but the third stage...

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RB 8

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pp. 169-171

1. In wintertime, that is, from November first until Easter, right reason dictates they should arise at the eighth hour of the night. 2. That way they can rest a little more than half the night and rise with their food digested. 3. The time that remains after Vigils should be used for the learning of psalms and lessons...

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RB 9

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pp. 171-177

1. In the previously defined winter season, first this verse is repeated three times: “Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise.” 2. To this should be added Psalm 3 and the Gloria. 3. After this comes Psalm 94 with refrain, or at least sung. 4. The Ambrosian hymn follows, and six psalms with antiphons. 5. When these have been completed...

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RB 10

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pp. 177-179

1. From Easter to November first, however, the number of psalms is maintained as stated above. 2. But the lessons in the book are not to be read, owing to the shortness of the nights. In place of three lessons, one Old Testament lesson is said by heart...

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RB 11

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pp. 179-183

1. On Sunday, they should rise earlier for Vigils. 2. In these Vigils the following order should be observed: first, six psalms and a verse should be sung, as we said before; then all should be seated on the benches in good order and by rank, and four lessons with their responsories are to be read in the book, as we said above...

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RB 12

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pp. 183-185

1. At Sunday Matins, first let Psalm 66 be sung straight through without antiphon. 2. After that, the fiftieth Psalm should be sung with Alleluia. 3. Then come Psalms 117 and 62...

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RB 13

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pp. 185-188

1. On ordinary days, however, the solemnity of Matins is to be done as follows: 2. Psalm 66 should be sung without an antiphon, drawing it out a little as on Sunday so that all might arrive for Psalm 50, which is sung with an antiphon. 3. After that, let two other psalms be sung according to custom...

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RB 14

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pp. 188-189

1. On the feasts of the saints, however, and all solemnities, let it be done as arranged for Sundays, 2. except that the psalms...

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RB 15

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pp. 189-191

1. From Holy Easter until Pentecost, Alleluia is sung without exception in both psalms and responsories. 2. From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent, however, it is to be sung every night but only with the six last psalms of Vigils...

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RB 16

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pp. 191-194

1. As the Prophet says, “Seven times a day I have praised you.” 2. We will fulfill the sacred number of seven if we satisfy the duties of our service at the time of Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. 3. For, of these Day Hours he said: “Seven times a day...

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RB 17

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pp. 194-197

1. We have already arranged the order of the psalmody for Vigils and Matins; now let us look at the hours that follow. 2. At Prime, the psalms should be sung separately and not under one Gloria. 3. The hymn for this hour should be sung after the verse “God, come to my assistance” and before the psalms...

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RB 18

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pp. 197-203

1. First of all, sing the verse “God, come to my help. Lord, hasten to help me.” Then comes the Gloria and hymn for each hour. 2. Then at Sunday Prime, four sections of Psalm 118 are to be sung. 3. At the remaining hours, that is, Terce, Sext and None, three sections of the aforesaid Psalm 118 should be sung. 4. Prime on Monday, three psalms are to be sung: Psalms 1,2 and 6...

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RB 19

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pp. 203-206

1. We believe that God is present everywhere and that the eyes of the Lord gaze everywhere on the good and bad. 2. We should, though, be totally convinced that this is so when we are present at the Divine Office. 3. Therefore let us remember what the Prophet says...

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RB 20

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pp. 206-209

1. When we wish to propose something to powerful people, we do not presume to do so without humility and reverence. 2. How much more should we petition the Lord God of the universe with great humility and total devotion...

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RB 8–20 Overview

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pp. 209-217

Someone looking for a theology of prayer in St. Benedict’s Rule is likely to be disappointed. The Rule has a dozen chapters on the Divine Office, but those chapters are mostly given over to a rather dry, factual description of the various prayers to be said in the Office. Since many of these arrangements have been abandoned by present-day monastic communities...

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RB 21

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pp. 217-221

1. If the community is large, let there be chosen from them brothers of good reputation and holy life, and let these be made deans. 2. In all matters they should take care of their deaneries according to commandments of God and the orders of their abbot. 3. Only those should be chosen deans with whom the abbot can confidently share his burdens...

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RB 21 Overview

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pp. 221-223

RB 21 does not much resemble its literary source in RM 11. Nevertheless, it is necessary to compare them closely to understand the distinctive flavor of Benedict’s little chapter. The chapter on the deans is not one of the great chapters of Benedict’s Rule, but it has its interests, both in terms of formal structure and content...

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RB 22

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pp. 223-227

1. Let them sleep in separate beds. 2. The abbot should see to it that they receive bedding suitable to their monastic life. 3. If possible, let them all sleep in one place, but if their number does not permit it, let them sleep in tens and twenties with the seniors in charge of them. 4. A candle should be kept continually burning in that room until morning...

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RB 22 Overview

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pp. 227-230

RB 22 is a small chapter that seems to deal with a peripheral matter, namely, how the monks are to sleep. Not surprisingly, its cultural aspects are quite obsolete since the circumstances of life are so different in our time—at least for monks in the Western world. Therefore, we might be tempted to give the chapter short shrift...

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RB 23

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pp. 230-233

1. If any brother is found to be defiant or disobedient or arrogant or a murmurer, or if he is in any way opposed to the Holy Rule or disdains the directions of his seniors, 2. let him be admonished privately once and a second time by his seniors...

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RB 24

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pp. 233-235

1. The degree of excommunication and discipline ought to be commensurate with the seriousness of the fault. 2. The judgment of the gravity of faults depends on the abbot. 3. If, however, a brother is found to be guilty of minor faults, he should not be permitted to participate in the common meals...

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RB 25

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pp. 235-238

1. But a brother who is judged guilty of a more serious fault should be excluded from both table and oratory. 2. No brother is to associate or converse with him in any fashion. 3. Let him work alone at what he is told to do...

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RB 26

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pp. 238-239

1. If any brother, without the abbot’s command, presumes in any way to associate or speak with an excommunicated brother or to send him an order...

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RB 27

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pp. 239-244

1. The abbot should focus all his attention on the care of wayward brothers, for it is not the healthy but the sick who need a physician. 2. Thus he should use all the means that a wise physician would. For example, he might send in senpectae, that is, wise, elderly brothers 3. who know how to comfort the wavering brother as if in secret...

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RB 28

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pp. 244-247

1. If a brother has been punished often for some fault, and if he does not change, even after excommunication, one should apply a harsher punishment to him: that is, he should be beaten with rods. 2. But if he still does not improve or if, God forbid, he even tries in his arrogance to defend his actions...

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RB 29

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pp. 248-249

1. When a brother leaves the monastery through his own fault, should he wish to return, he must first promise to thoroughly correct the fault that caused his departure. 2. And so let him be taken back...

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RB 30

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pp. 249-251

1. Every age and mentality should have an appropriate regimen. 2. Therefore, as regards children or youths, or those who have little understanding of the gravity of excommunication...

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RB 23–30 Overview

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pp. 251-256

Probably no section of Benedict’s Rule is less attractive to modern eyes than the part on penalties. There may not be a single monastery in the world today that carries out literally his prescriptions for punishing monks. Indeed, the whole question of corporate discipline in monasteries is very difficult in an age of extreme individualism...

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RB 31

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pp. 257-266

1. The cellarer of the monastery should be chosen from the community. He should be a wise person, of mature character and well disciplined. He should not be gluttonous, arrogant, violent, unfair, stingy or wasteful. 2. Rather, he should be one who fears God and is like the father to the whole community...

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RB 32

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pp. 266-268

1. Regarding the goods of the monastery, whether it be tools or clothing or anything else, the abbot should choose brothers of reliable life and habits, 2. and he will, as he sees fit, entrust them these objects to be cared for and collected. 3. The abbot will keep a list of these things...

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RB 31–32 Overview

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pp. 268-272

Although it is not particularly lengthy, RB 31 is an important chapter in Benedict’s scheme of things. Some important monastic officials such as the guestmaster and the novice master are merely discussed in connection with their departments. But since the whole monastery is the department of the cellarer...

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RB 33

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pp. 272-278

1. This vice in particular must be torn up by the roots: 2. that anyone should presume to give or receive anything without the abbot’s permission, 3. or consider anything personal property, absolutely nothing: no book, no writing tablets, no stylus—nothing whatsoever...

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RB 34

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pp. 278-282

1. As it is written: It was distributed to each one according to need. 2. By this we do not recommend favoritism—God forbid!—but sympathy for weaknesses. 3. So the one who needs less should thank God and not be sad. 4. And whoever needs more should be humble about his weaknesses...

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RB 33–34 Overview

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pp. 282-288

The use of this world’s goods has always been a concern of monks, and indeed, of all Christians. This theme is perhaps not at the center of biblical spirituality, but nevertheless it is important enough to receive some attention in both testaments. For the Jewish Bible, the basic attitude toward possessions is positive...

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RB 35

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pp. 288-295

1. The brothers should serve one another. Therefore no one may be excused from kitchen duty except for illness or occupation with an essential task, 2. for thus is merit increased and love built up. 3. Let help be provided for the weak so they do not lose heart in this work, 4. but let all have help according to the size of the community or the circumstances of the place...

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RB 35 Overview

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pp. 296-299

The kitchen service in cenobitic monasteries is a theme discussed by the whole tradition. For Pachomius, it is done on a weekly basis as are all of the domestic jobs in the community (pr. 15,23,27,64,129). Cassian, inst. 4.19-22, contradicts this, saying that such was the custom in the East but not in Egypt...

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RB 36

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pp. 300-305

1. The sick are to be cared for before and above all else, for it is really Christ who is served in them. 2. He himself said: I was sick and you visited me, and 3. Whatever you did to one of these little ones, you did to me. 4. For their part, the sick should keep in mind that they are being served out of respect for God...

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RB 36 Overview

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pp. 305-309

Although RB 36 on the sick brothers is only ten verses in length, it is a rather complete and satisfying composition. In his magisterial survey of the monastic tradition on the care of the sick, A. de Vogüé, 6.1075-1109, shows that of all the early monastic Rules, Benedict’s is probably the most complete on this subject...

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RB 37

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pp. 309-311

1. While human nature itself is indulgent toward these two groups, namely the aged and children, the authority of the Rule should also look out for them. 2. Their weakness must always be kept in mind and the strictness of the Rule regarding food...

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RB 38

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pp. 311-318

1. The meals of the brothers ought not to lack reading, nor should just anyone who happens to pick up the book read there. Rather, the one who is to read should begin on Sunday and do so for the whole week. 2. After Mass and Communion, the one beginning the week should petition all to pray for him...

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RB 38 Overview

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pp. 318-321

The question of table-reading should be kept in the context of the meal as a human institution, and also as a Christian symbol. From time immemorial, people have considered a common meal as a primary celebration of community, and this event is normally attended by conversation...

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RB 39

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pp. 321-327

1. We believe that two cooked dishes are enough for the daily meal, whether at noon or mid-afternoon, at all times of the year. This is done because of the weaknesses of various persons, 2. for one who cannot eat one dish may be able to eat the other. 3. Therefore two cooked dishes should be enough for all the brothers, and if fruit or fresh vegetables are available, a third may be added...

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RB 40

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pp. 327-332

1. Each person is endowed by God with a special gift, some this, some that. 2. Therefore it is with some some uneasiness that we lay down rules for the consumption of others. 3. Nonetheless, keeping in view the weakness of the sick, we believe that an hemina of wine a day is sufficient for each one...

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RB 41

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pp. 332-337

1. From Holy Easter until Pentecost, the brothers should dine at noon and have supper in the evening. 2. After Pentecost and throughout the summer, however, if the monks are not working in the fields, and if the heat of summer is not too oppressive...

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RB 39–41 Overview

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pp. 338-343

To judge from the sheer extent of Benedict’s remarks on meals and food, the subject is quite important to him. Along with RB 35 and 38, on which we have already commented, RB 39–41 continue the discussion of monastic dining, but now on the subject of “how much” and “when.” Since food and drink are important aspects of asceticism...

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RB 42

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pp. 344-350

1. Monks ought to strive for silence at all times, but especially during the night hours. 2. Therefore, at all seasons, whether of fasting or not, this will be the arrangement. 3. On a nonfast day, as soon as they rise from supper, they should sit down in a group. Someone should read the Conferences or the Lives of the Fathers...

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RB 43

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pp. 350-360

1. At the time for the Divine Office, as soon as he hears the signal the monk should drop whatever is in hand and rush there with the greatest haste. 2. But he should do so with dignity so as not to provide an occasion for silliness. 3. Therefore nothing should be put ahead of the Work of God...

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RB 44

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pp. 360-365

1. One who is excommunicated for serious faults from oratory and table should lie prostrate and silent outside the entrance to the oratory at the time when the celebration of the Divine Office is completed. 2. He should simply lie there with his face to the ground and stretched flat at the feet of all as they leave the oratory...

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RB 45

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pp. 365-367

1. If someone makes a mistake when chanting a psalm, response, antiphon or lesson, unless he makes humble satisfaction right then and there before all, he should suffer a more severe punishment...

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RB 46

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pp. 367-371

1. If someone is working in the kitchen, the cellar, in serving, in the bakery, the garden or at any craft or any other place—and if he commits some mistake, 2. or breaks or loses something, or errs in any other way in any place, and if he does not come immediately before the abbot and community to confess his fault spontaneously...

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RB 43–46 Overview

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pp. 371-377

This bloc of chapters has common titles (see note 43T) and common content dealing with faults and their correction. Vogüé labels it “satisfaction,” but there is also discussion of specific faults. What is noteworthy is the fact that this body of material is separated by a good distance from Benedict’s “penal code"...

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RB 47

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pp. 378-381

1. It is the abbot’s responsibility to signal the time for the Work of God, both during the day and the night. He should either give the signal himself or entrust the work to a careful brother. That way, everything will be done at the right time...

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RB 48

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pp. 381-396

1. Idleness is the soul’s enemy, so therefore at determined times the brothers ought to be occupied with manual labor, and again at determined hours in lectio divina. 2. Therefore, we think that both periods should be scheduled in the following way...

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RB 48 Overview

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pp. 396-401

The title of RB 48 speaks only of work, but in addition the chapter is about the daily schedule and it also says much about lectio divina. In this, it follows the corresponding chapter in RM 50 surprisingly closely, considering that Benedict generally ignores the Master toward the end of his Rule...

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RB 49

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pp. 401-407

1. At all times the lifestyle of a monk ought to have a Lenten quality. 2. However, because few have that kind of strength, we urge them to guard their lives with all purity during these Lenten days. 3. All should work together at effacing during this holy season the negligences of other times...

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RB 49 Overview

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pp. 408-410

Benedict’s chapter on Lent is one of his most successful efforts and also quite surprising in its tone. In a monastic Rule that often has to emphasize asceticism, one might expect that if there is to be a discussion of Lent, it will be super-ascetical or even grim. That is far from the case with RB 49...

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RB 50

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pp. 410-413

1. Brothers who are at work very far from the oratory and who cannot arrive at the oratory in time 2.—the abbot judges whether that is really the case—...

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RB 51

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pp. 413-414

1. If a brother is sent out on some errand and is expected to return to the monastery the same day, he should not presume to eat outside...

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RB 52

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pp. 414-418

1. The oratory should be in fact what it is called, and nothing else should be done or stored there. 2. When the Work of God is finished, they should all leave in deepest silence and show reverence for God. 3. Thus will the brother who may wish to pray by himself...

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RB 53

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pp. 419-431

1. All guests who arrive should be received as Christ, for he himself will say, I was a stranger and you took me in. 2. Proper respect should be shown to all, especially fellow monks and pilgrims. 3. So, as soon as a guest is announced, the superior or the brothers should hurry to meet him with every mark of love. 4. First they should pray together and then be united in peace...

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RB 53 Overview

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pp. 431-435

Benedict’s treatise on hospitality is one of the best-known and bestloved chapters in the entire Rule. Some of the reason for this is due to the subsequent history of Benedictine monasteries, which were the hostels of Europe during the early medieval period. But the chapter itself is remarkable for its enthusiasm and even eagerness...

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RB 54

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pp. 436-439

1. It is not permitted for monks to receive letters, pious gifts or little presents from their relatives or other people without abbatial approval; nor may they exchange them among themselves. 2. But even if a monk is sent anything by his relatives...

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RB 55

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pp. 439-450

1. Clothing should be given to the brothers suitable to the circumstances and the climate of the place where they live, 2. for in cold regions more is needed, while less is necessary in warm ones. 3. Therefore the abbot should be sensitive to these matters. 4. For temperate climates, however, we think it is enough for each monk to have a cowl and a tunic...

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RB 55 Overview

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pp. 450-454

Benedict’s chapter on clothing and shoes is not one of his betterknown sections. This is partly due to the mundane nature of the content, but there is more to it than that. The chapter also includes comments on dispossession, plus details on the cut of the clothes, travel-wear and the bedding of the monks...

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RB 56

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pp. 454-457

1. The table of the abbot should always be with the guests and pilgrims. 2. But as often as there are few guests, he shall have the power...

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RB 57

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pp. 457-462

1. If there are skilled workers in the monastery, let them practice their crafts with all humility if the abbot permits it. 2. But if anyone of these workers is so proud of his expertise that he thinks he is a great gift to the monastery, 3. he should be removed from his work. Nor should he return to it unless he has humbled himself and the abbot permits it again...

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RB 58

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pp. 462-479

1. When someone comes first to the monastic life, he should not be allowed entry too readily, 2. but as the Apostle says: “Test whether the spirits be godly” (1 John 4:1). 3. Thus if the newcomer continues knocking and is seen to bear patiently for four or five days the rebuffs offered him and the difficulty of entrance...

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RB 58 Overview

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pp. 479-485

Someone who comes to Benedict’s chapter on the reception of new monks expecting to find a treatise on monastic formation will probably be somewhat disappointed. Although RB 58 does discuss the whole initiation process from entry to profession, it does not take up many questions that seem essential to a modern novitiate...

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RB 59

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pp. 485-490

1. If a nobleman should wish to offer his son to God in the monastery, and if he is still a young child, his parents themselves prepare the written petition that we have spoken about above. 2. They should wrap the petition and the child’s hand together with the oblation in the altar cloth, and offer him in this way...

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RB 59 Overview

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pp. 490-492

RB 59 presents a massive problem to the modern mentality, for it encourages parents to devote their young children to the monastic life with no consent on their part. In his studies of this chapter, Vogüé, 6.962-970; 1355-1364, tackles this difficulty head-on. He cannot explain it away...

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RB 60

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pp. 492-497

1. If one of the priestly order asks to be received into the monastery, do not agree too quickly. 2. However, if he will not be deterred in his request, he must realize that he will have to observe the full discipline of the Rule. 3. Nothing will be made easy for him, for it is written, “Friend, what was your purpose in coming (Matt 26:50)?”...

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RB 61

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pp. 497-504

1. A monk from a distant region may arrive for a visit and wish to live in the monastery as a guest. 2. If he is satisfied with the local customs that he finds there and does not trouble the monastery with his excessive demands, 3. he should be allowed to stay as long as he likes—provided he is satisfied with what he finds!...

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RB 62

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pp. 504-510

1. If any abbot needs to have a priest ordained for himself, he should choose from among his monks one worthy of the sacerdotal office. 2. The one ordained, however, must beware of vanity and pride, 3. nor should he presume to do anything but what the abbot has ordered, since he knows he must submit all the more to the discipline of the Rule...

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RB 60–62 Overview

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pp. 510-514

These three chapters present a somewhat odd appearance since the outside members (60–62) are about priests, while the intervening member is about monks who are not priests. Actually, RB 60 and 61 also go together because they are both about outsiders who desire to become members of the monastic community. RB 62 looks forward to the following chapters...

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RB 63

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pp. 514-523

1. In the monastery, they should keep to their ranks as established by the time of entry, merit of life or the abbot’s arrangement. 2. The abbot should not disturb the flock committed to him, nor should he arrange anything unjustly as if he had unlimited power. 3. But he should always keep in mind that he will have to answer to God for his decisions and deeds...

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RB 63 Overview

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pp. 523-525

RB 63 is about the “place” of each member of the monastic community. The system that Benedict sets forth is breathtakingly simple: the one who comes at the first hour is senior to the one who comes at the second hour (63.8). Since this system applies to every member of the community, it can be described as the basic structure of Benedictine cenobitic monasticism...

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RB 64

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pp. 525-537

1. In the installation of an abbot, the proper method is always to appoint the one whom the whole community agrees to choose in the fear of God. Or a part of the community, no matter how small, may make the choice if they possess sounder judgment. 2. Let the candidate be chosen for merit of life and wisdom of teaching...

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RB 64 Overview

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pp. 537-541

RB 64 is unique in being the only chapter where Benedict entirely reworks an earlier theme. We have seen that RB 2 is a rather full and well-developed treatise on the abbot, the spiritual leader of the monastery. That chapter was closely modeled on RM 2, with significant changes (see notes and RB 2 Overview) by Benedict...

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RB 65

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pp. 541-551

1. All too often it has happened that the installation of a prior has made grave scandals arise in monasteries. 2. There are some who become puffed up with an evil spirit of pride, thinking themselves second abbots and grasping at autonomous power. They nourish disputes and create quarrels in communities...

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RB 65 Overview

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pp. 551-555

The chapter on the prior is probably the hardest test for an interpreter of the Rule of Benedict. It is not that the grammar and vocabulary are any more difficult than usual, though it is different, see below B.1; nor is the content so confusing, though it is somewhat intricate. What is hard to fathom about this chapter is its tone of voice...

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RB 66

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pp. 555-561

1. A wise old monk should be stationed at the gate of the monastery. He should know how to listen to people and also how to speak to them; his age should prevent him from wandering about. 2. The porter will need to have quarters near the gate so that those who arrive will always find him present to answer their call...

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RB 67

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pp. 561-566

1. Brothers who are about to set out on a journey should commend themselves to the prayers of all the brethren and the abbot. 2. A remembrance of all the absent members must always be made at the final prayer of the Divine Office. 3. But when the brothers come back from a journey...

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RB 68

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pp. 566-572

1. If it should happen that some heavy or impossible tasks are given to a brother, he should accept the order of the superior with all gentleness and obedience. 2. But if he sees that the weight of the task altogether exceeds his strength, he should patiently point out to the superior why he cannot do it...

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RB 69

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pp. 573-575

1. Be especially careful that no monk presume on any occasion to defend another monk in the monastery or take him under his protection, as it were. 2. This is so, even if they are joined by some degree of family relationship. 3. In no way should monks presume to behave this way...

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RB 70

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pp. 576-580

1. Every opportunity for arbitrary behavior must be precluded from the monastery. 2. Therefore we decree that no one has the right to excommunicate or beat any of the brothers unless the abbot has given him that power. 3. Offenders should be publicly rebuked so others will experience fear...

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RB 71

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pp. 580-587

1. The blessing of obedience is not only something that everyone ought to show the abbot, but the brothers should also obey one another. 2. They know that they will go to God by this path of obedience. 3. Therefore, except for an order of the abbot or the priors appointed by him, which we permit no private command to override...

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RB 72

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pp. 587-598

1. Just as there is an evil and bitter zeal that separates one from God and leads to hell, 2. so too there is a good zeal that separates one from evil and leads to God and eternal life. 3. Thus monks should practice this zeal with the warmest love: 4. “Let them strive to be the first to honor one another.” 5. They should bear each other’s weaknesses...

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RB 72 Overview

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pp. 598-602

Since this chapter is probably the real finale of the Rule (see note 72.12), it is no wonder that commentators often have a great deal to say about it. Also, it is arguably the most communal of all Benedict’s chapters, so those scholars who are most interested in this aspect of Benedictine life will tend to expand their analysis of this chapter...

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RB 73

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pp. 602-611

1. We have sketched out this Rule, so that carrying it out in monasteries we may at least show that we have moral decency and the rudiments of a monastic life. 2. But for someone who is in a hurry to reach the fullness of monastic life, there are the teachings of the Holy Fathers...

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RB 73 Overview

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pp. 612-619

Because of its position, its doctrine and its complexity, RB 73 is of exceptional interest to both the scholar and the ordinary reader. It is generally considered an epilogue, not part of the main text but a separate summary (Vogüé, 4.95-114). Of course, its general message is to encourage the monk to avoid complacency and to seek to make continual progress toward God...

Works Cited

Abbreviations

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pp. 620-621

Patristic Works Cited

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pp. 621-626

Secondary Works Cited

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pp. 626-637

Index of Key Words and Themes Discussed in Notes

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pp. 638-641