Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VII: CONCERNING HUMILITY - The Rule of St. Benedict
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CHAPTER VII: CONCERNING HUMILITY - 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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Brethren, the sacred Scriptures cry out to us and say: “Every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and every one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In saying this it reveals that all exalting is a form of pride, against which the prophet shows that he is on his guard by saying: “Lord, my heart is not exalted nor mine eyes uplifted; and I have not concerned myself with great things nor with wonderful things above my reach.” But why? “If I have not been of humble mind, but exalted my soul, then as if a weaned child upon his mother’s breast, such let my soul’s retribution be.” Whence, brethren, if we wish to attain the highest point of humility and if we wish quickly to reach that heavenly exaltation which is attained through humility in this present life, we must by what we do to attain it set up that ladder which appeared in Jacob’s dream and by which angels were shown to be both descending and ascending; for without doubt we are not to understand that descending and ascending but as descending by exaltation and ascending by humility.
For that ladder set up is our life in this world which, when the heart has been humbled by the Lord, is set up to heaven. And we say that the sides of this ladder are our body and soul, into which sides God-given vocation has inserted sundry rungs of humility and discipline by which we may ascend.
The first step, then, of humility is if one set the fear of God always before his eyes and altogether avoid forgetfulness; and be always mindful of everything that God has ordered and always ponder over life eternal, which is prepared for those that fear God; and how hell will consume, for their sins, such as despise God; and if he keep himself at all times from sins and faults, alike of thought, of the tongue, of the eye, of the hand, of the foot, or of self-will; and moreover hasten to cut away the desires of the flesh.
Let him at all times account that he is a man beheld always by God in heaven and that whatsoever he does in any place is seen by the divine watchfulness and is at all times reported to God by the angels. The prophet makes this plain to us when he shows God always present in our thoughts, saying: “God, scrutinizing the hearts and reins.” And again: “The Lord knows men’s thoughts.” And again he says: “Thou hast understood my thoughts from afar.” And: “Since man’s thought will acknowledge Thee,” in order that he may be careful concerning perverse thoughts, let the humble brother always say in his heart: “Then shall I be spotless in His sight, when I shall have kept me from mine iniquity.”
But our own will we are thus forbidden to do, namely, when the Scripture says to us: “And from thy wishes turn away.” And again in prayer we ask God that His will may be done in us. We are therefore well taught not to do our own will when we avoid what the Scripture mentions: “Ways there are which to men seem right, but of which the end plunges down to the very depth of hell.” And again when we tremble at what is said of the careless: “They are corrupt and become abominable in their pleasures.” For amid the desires of the flesh let us know by faith that God is always present with us, as the prophet says to the Lord: “Lord, every one of my desires is before Thee.”
Thus therefore must one beware of evil desires, because death is stationed outside the entrance of delight. So Scripture gives command, saying: “Go not after thy fleshly desires.” Therefore, since the eyes of the Lord behold good men and bad and the Lord is always looking down from heaven upon the children of men to see if anyone have understanding and be a seeker of God; and since our acts and deeds are every day, day and night, reported to the Lord by the angels assigned to us; therefore, brethren, must one beware at all times, as the prophet says in the Psalms: “Lest God at any time should see us become unprofitable and turning aside in evil; and lest, though sparing us for the present because father-like He awaits our conversion to better ways, He should say to us hereafter: ‘These things thou didst and I held My peace.’ ”
The second step in humility is, if anyone, loving not his own self-will, delight not to fulfil his natural desires, but in his deeds reproduce that word of the Lord Who says: “I did not come to do My will, but His Who sent Me.” Again the Scripture says: “Self-will has punishment, but necessity acquires a crown.”
The third step in humility is that one for love of God subject himself in all obedience to his superior, imitating the Lord, of Whom the Apostle says: “Made obedient even unto death.”
The fourth step in humility is if in that same obedience, though things hard and contrary and even injuries, no matter of what kind, have been inflicted, he keep patience with a quiet conscience and enduring grows not weary nor gives in, for Scripture says: “He who perseveres to the end, the same shall be saved.” And again: “Let thy heart be comforted and wait for the Lord.” And showing that the faithful man ought for the Lord’s sake to wait patiently, seem all things never so contrary, it says in the name of the suffering: “For Thy sake we are afflicted all the day; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
And they, secure in their hope of divine retribution, gladly follow on and say: “But in all these things we overcome by Him Who loved us.”
And again in another place: “Thou, O God, hast tested us,” says Scripture, “Thou hast examined us with fire, as silver is examined with fire. Thou hast led us into the snare, Thou hast placed troubles upon our back.” And to show that we ought to be under a superior, it follows on, saying: “Thou hast placed men over our heads.” Moreover, fulfilling the Lord’s command by patience amid adversities and injuries those struck on the cheek offer the other also; with him who deprives them of their tunic they leave their cloak in addition; constrained to go a thousand paces, they go two thousand; with Paul the Apostle, they endure false brethren and bless those that curse them.
The fifth step in humility is if one shall have discovered to his abbot, by humble admission, any evil thoughts that come to the heart, or evil deeds done by him in secret. The Scripture makes exhortation concerning this matter, saying: “Reveal to the Lord thy way and hope in Him.” And again it saith: “Confess to the Lord since He is good and since His mercy is for ever.” And again the prophet saith: “My fault I made known to Thee and hid not mine unrighteousness. I said, Against myself I will denounce mine unrighteousness to the Lord, and Thou forgavest the unfilialness of my heart.”
The sixth step in humility is if a monk be content with the meanest and worst of everything and with respect to everything enjoined him adjudge himself a profitless workman and unworthy, saying to himself with the prophet: “I was brought to nothing and was ignorant: I became as a beast of burden before Thee and I am always with Thee.”
The seventh step in humility is if he not only with his mouth denounce himself as inferior to all and more worthless, but also believe it in his inner consciousness, humbling himself and saying with the prophet: “But I am a worm and not a man, a shame of men and an outcast of the people: I was exalted and humbled and confounded.” And again: “It is good for me that Thou didst humble me, that I may learn Thy commandments.”
The eighth step in humility is if a monk do nothing but what the common rule of the monastery and the example of his seniors suggest.
The ninth step in humility is if a monk restrain his tongue from speaking so as to keep silence and not speak till questioned, the Scripture showing that: “In much speaking sin may not be avoided”; and that “the talkative man will not be guided aright in the world.”
The tenth step in humility is if he be not easily and quickly moved to laughter, because it is written: “The fool lifts up his voice in laughter.”
The eleventh step in humility is if when a monk speaks he speak few and reasonable words, calmly and without laughter, humbly and with gravity; and be not noisy in speech, as it is written: “A wise man is known by the fewness of his words.”
The twelfth step in humility is if a monk not only be humble in heart, but also always in his very body evince humility to those who see him, that is, that in the Work of God, in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road, in the field or elsewhere, sitting, walking, or standing, his head be always bent, his eyes cast down, accounting himself at all times as one convicted of his sins; and likewise accounting himself to be already presented before God’s awe-inspiring judgment, always in his heart saying to himself what that publican in the Gospel said with eyes fixed upon the ground: “Lord, I, the sinner, am not worthy to lift up mine eyes to heaven.” And again with the prophet: “Bowed and humbled am I on every side.”
When then the monk shall have ascended all these steps in humility, he will presently arrive at that love of God which, being perfect, puts fear right outside; and by means of which all that formerly he could not observe but with much fearfulness he will begin to keep without any difficulty, as it were by habit become second nature, no longer through fear of hell, but for love of Christ and a certain good habit and delight in virtue, the which the Lord will deign to manifest by the Holy Spirit to His labourer now cleansed from vices and sins.