Benedict’s Rule of Life – Part 8

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After Benedict’s seventh chapter on “Humility” the rest of his Rule of Life is filled with many practical items, some which occupy a paragraph or two, and others with a bit more explanation. What’s fascinating about the remainder of the Rule is how specific he becomes about areas of community life and their shared life of prayer.

 

For example, the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh chapter deal with the time for the night office (which is known as Vigils), how many psalms are to be read in the night office, the arrangement of the night office in summer, and how to handle Vigils on Sundays.  His care for the particularities of their life together is a sign of his love for his brothers and his desire for unity and oneness in every aspect of communal living.

 

From the twelfth chapter all the way to the seventy-third (which is the end of the Rule), Benedict spends time articulating even more specifics about how the Rule should remain central to the brothers life with God and each other. Here’s a brief listing of the kinds of things he makes note of in the remainder of the Rule:

 

·         The celebration of Lauds on ordinary days and on the anniversaries of saints

·         The times for saying “Alleluia” and the divine office during the day

·         The number of psalms to be sung and the order in which they are to be sung

·         Reverence in prayer

·         Sleeping arrangements

·         Handling serious faults and excommunication

·         The tools and goods of the monastery

·         Kitchen servers of the week

·         How best to handle sickness of a brother

·         The proper amount of food and drink

·         Tardiness and handling mistakes made by a brother

·         Daily manual labor

·         Observance of Lent

·         Clothing and footwear of the brothers

·         The election of an Abbot

·         The “good zeal” of monks

 

Benedict ends the Rule with a final chapter describing how the Rule was written only as a starting point for those who would live together under such mandates. “So we can show that we have some degree of virtue and the beginnings of monastic life. With Christ’s help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners. After that, you can set out for the loftier summits of the teaching and virtues we mentioned above, and under God’s protection you will reach them. Amen.”

 

Benedict’s Rule of Life has been sustained since the early 500’s AD.  I’m amazed at the agility of the Rule to survive multiple generations of Christians who have sought to follow these very specific items in their communal life.  It’s by no means a “perfect” Rule, in fact as Benedict has described it in these final words, it’s written for “beginners” and is kept simple and straight forward in wisdom and godliness.

 

The life God invites us to fulfill is also pretty straight forward, presented to us in his Word. We often stray for the simplicity of his instructions and take matters into our own hands. That’s why it’s important that we too consider our own personal Rule of Life, writing down that which we believe to be true about living our lives fully for God.  Join those who are seeking to do exactly that at www.RuleOfLife.org and consider today how best to articulate your Rule of Life under the loving and guiding hand of Almighty God. Let me know how it goes, ok?

 

 

 

 

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.