The Rule of Benedict, written by Saint Benedict of Nursia in sixth-century Italy, is an influential document of western monasticism. For hundreds of years and in thousands of monasteries, monks and nuns have followed this Rule.
Benedict begins his Rule with the word “Listen.” Benedictines are to listen with the “ear of our heart” to the abbot, community members, and, most of all, to God.
Benedict wrote the Rule for ordinary Christians. He orchestrates a community life where his followers seek God in prayer, silence, obedience, humility, and work. Abbot Jerome Theisen in The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia wrote that Benedict legislates about the virtues of “obedience, silence, and humility and provides instructions about daily living: times for common prayer, meditative reading and manual work, for details of common living such as clothing, sleeping arrangements, food and drink, reception of guests, recruitment of new members, journeys away from the monastery, etc.”
Regarding the Divine Office (daily prayers of psalms and hymns), Benedict admonishes, “Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God” (Rule of Benedict 43:3). In Chapter Five, he wrote that “The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.” He legislates “let all guests who arrive be received as Christ” (Rule of Benedict 53).
Benedictines have followed the Rule for fifteen hundred years. Benedict taught his followers to seek God so “that in all things God may be glorified.”
In conclusion, St. Benedict sums up his Rule in Chapter 72, which calls his followers to put their efforts to following Christ: “Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may He bring us all together to everlasting life.” (Rule of Benedict 72.11)