Front Page Titles (by Subject) HERE BEGINNETH THE PROLOGUE TO A RULE FOR MONASTERIES - The Rule of St. Benedict
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HERE BEGINNETH THE PROLOGUE TO A RULE FOR MONASTERIES - Saint Benedict, The Rule of St. Benedict 
The Rule of St. Benedict, translated into English. A Pax Book, preface by W.K. Lowther Clarke (London: S.P.C.K., 1931).
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HERE BEGINNETH THE PROLOGUE TO A RULE FOR MONASTERIES
Hearken continually within thine heart, O son, giving attentive ear to the precepts of thy master. Understand with willing mind and effectually fulfil thy holy father’s admonition; that thou mayest return, by the labour of obedience, to Him from Whom, by the idleness of disobedience, thou hadst withdrawn. To this end I now address a word of exhortation to thee, whosoever thou art, who, renouncing thine own will and taking up the bright and all-conquering weapons of obedience, dost enter upon the service of thy true king, Christ the Lord.
In the first place, then, when thou dost begin any good thing that is to be done, with most insistent prayer beg that it may be carried through by Him to its conclusion; so that He Who already deigns to count us among the number of His children may not at any time be made aggrieved by evil acts on our part. For in such wise is obedience due to Him, on every occasion, by reason of the good He works in us; so that not only may He never, as an irate father, disinherit us His children, but also may never, as a dread-inspiring master made angry by our misdeeds, deliver us over to perpetual punishment as most wicked slaves who would not follow Him to glory.
Let us therefore now at length rise up as the Scripture incites us when it says: “Now is the hour for us to arise from sleep.” And with our eyes open to the divine light, let us with astonished ears listen to the admonition of God’s voice daily crying out and saying: “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” And again: “He who has the hearing ear, let him hear what the Spirit announces to the churches.” And what does the Spirit say? “Come, children, listen to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Run while ye have the light of life, that the shades of death envelop you not.”
And inquiring for His own labourer among the multitude of the people to whom He proclaims these things, the Lord says again: “Who is the man that wishes for life, and desires to see good days?” And if hearing this thou dost answer “I,” God then says to thee: “If thou dost wish for life true and eternal, refrain thy tongue from evil and let not thy lips speak guile. Turn aside from evil and do good; seek out peace and follow it. And when ye have done this, lo, My eyes are upon you and My ears open to your prayers. And before ye call, I will say, ‘Behold, I am here.’ ”
What, most dear brethren, could be more sweet to us than this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold the Lord points out the way of life to us by His own fatherly affection.
Let our loins then be girt with faith and the observance of good works, and let us, gospel-led, pursue His paths, that we may be worthy to see Him Who has called us unto His own kingdom.
But if our wish be to have a dwelling-place in His kingdom, let us remember it can by no means be attained unless one run thither by good deeds. For, with the prophet, let us ask the Lord, saying to Him: “Lord, who will dwell in Thy tabernacle, and who will rest in Thy holy mount?” After putting this question, brethren, let us listen to our Lord showing us in answer the way to that same tabernacle by saying: “He who lives blamelessly and does justice; he who speaks truth from his heart; he who has kept his tongue from guile; he who has done his neighbour no evil and has accepted no slander against his neighbour”: he who has brought to naught the malignant slanderer the devil, rejecting from his heart’s thoughts him and his efforts to persuade him; and who has taken hold of his suggestions or ever they be come to maturity and has dashed them against the Rock which is Christ. Those who fear the Lord are not puffed up by their own good observance of rule, but reckoning that the good that is in them could not be wrought by themselves but by God, magnify the Lord working in them and say with the prophet: “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name give glory.” Just as also the Apostle Paul attributed nothing to himself concerning his own preaching, but said: “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” And again the same Paul said: “He who glories, in the Lord let him glory.”
Whence the Lord also says in the Gospel: “He who hears these My words and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon a rock. There came torrents of rain and rushing winds, and they struck upon that house, but it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” As a consequence our Lord daily looks for it that we should respond by deeds to these His holy warnings. Thus it is on account of the need of correcting faults that the days of this life are prolonged for us, as by way of truce; and the Apostle says: “Art thou ignorant that the patience of God leads thee towards penitence?” For the Lord in His tenderness says: “I will not the death of a sinner, but that he may be converted and live.”
Since therefore, brethren, we asked of the Lord concerning the dweller in His tabernacle, we have heard, as a precept concerning dwelling there, “if we fulfil what is required of a dweller there.” Therefore must our hearts and bodies be prepared as about to serve like soldiers under holy obedience to these precepts; and whatsoever our nature does not make possible let us ask the Lord to direct that the help of His grace shall supply. And if we wish to escape the pains of hell and attain to eternal life we must hasten to do such things only as may profit us for eternity, now, while there is time for this and we are in this body and there is time to fulfil all these precepts by means of this light.
We have therefore to establish a school of the Lord’s service, in the institution of which we hope we are going to establish nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. But if, prompted by the desire to attain to equity, anything be set forth somewhat strictly for the correction of vice or the preservation of charity, do not therefore in fear and terror flee back from the way of salvation of which the beginning cannot but be a narrow entrance. For it is by progressing in the life of conversion and faith that, with heart enlarged and in ineffable sweetness of love, one runs in the way of God’s commandments, so that never deserting His discipleship but persevering until death in His doctrine within the monastery, we may partake by patience in the suffering of Christ and become worthy inheritors of His kingdom. Amen.