The version of the Rule of St Benedict used on this site, originally published by the Stanbrook Abbey Press in 1937, is used by kind permission of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust.
The introduction to the Reflections is below please scroll down to find the reflection for the current Chapter of the Rule.
Welcome to Reflections on the Rule of St Benedict (please scroll down for daily reflections) We wanted the Rule of St Benedict (RB) to pulse through the website as it does through our life, hence the decision that the daily portion of the Rule, read in most Benedictine monasteries and by many individuals, should feature on the Home Page. The version selected is that of Dom Justin McCann of Ampleforth published by the Stanbrook Abbey Press in 1937. There are several reasons for this choice: first of all, we feel it still reads as an elegant translation, then we wish to celebrate cooperation between the Ampleforth and Stanbrook communities over many years, and thirdly, perhaps the old-fashioned 'thees' and 'thous' can actually help us approach the Rule of St Benedict thoughtfully. For all its relevance, RB remains an ancient text which needs careful 'unpacking'. To accompany the extracts of the Rule we hope to post reflections, initially from members of the Stanbrook Community. These do not aim to be scholarly commentaries of which there are many excellent editions available. Rather, the reflections allow us to re-visit the Rule, to try to listen to its familiar voice anew, and to share thoughts via this forum. Your comments are welcome via firstname.lastname@example.org
This series of reflections (Sept-Dec. 2015) s offered by Mary Cockroft, an oblate of Stanbrook. Please scroll downbelow 'Further Reading' to find the reflection for the day.
The spaces in the formatting of the text are meant as an aid to personal reflection and prayer.
Any feedback for Mary may be sent via email@example.com
If you have enjoyed looking at words and patterns in the Rule you will probably benefit from Sr Aquinata Bockmann's approach, eg in her Perspectives on the Rule of St Benedict (2005), pub. Collegeville.
Dom Hugh Gilbert's three books: Unfolding the Mystery (2007), Living the Mystery (2008) and The Tale of Quisquis (2014)each pub. Gracewing.
Gregory Collins: Meeting Christ in his Mysteries (2010) pub. Columba.
Maria Boulding: Gateway to Resurrection (2010) pub. Continuum, is shot through with the Paschal dimension of Benedictine life.
Sr Mary Margaret Funk OSB's 'Matters' books pub. Liturgical Press.
Anything by Michael Casey OCSO!
This series of reflections (Sept-Dec. 2015) s offered by Mary Cockroft, an oblate of Stanbrook.
Please scroll downbelow 'Further Reading' to find the reflection for the day.
Jan 1, May 2, Sept 1
This sounds so simple, yet when do I really listen?
So often, if I am honest, I am hardly listening to others because I am either thinking about something else, or anxious for the other to listen to my story.
How often am I trying to do several things at once - read the paper or a book, eat my breakfast, make a list of the day's tasks, check my e mails, listen to Radio 4. ...
Whilst I live alone, even silence is full of the extremely loud noise going on in my head.
Why is the call to listen not reaching my heart?
This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him. (Mark 9)
What is stopping me? What do I fear might happen if I do listen? Do I really want to know what God might be saying to me?
A few things God might be saying to me:
Peace be with you…….Do not be afraid.
What do you want me to do for you?
Come to me, all you who are overburdened, and I will give you rest.
I have come that you may have life………Your sins are forgiven.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
You did not choose me; I chose you.
Maybe I could read through the Gospels slowly, imagining myself in the events, hearing Jesus speak to me.
Maybe I could ask myself at the end of each day: where did God speak to me today? Where was I listening? Where did I find it hard to listen?
Pray that I will learn to listen with my heart.
Remember: I have everything to gain and nothing to lose, or certainly nothing that is more important than what Jesus is offering.
Jesus says: I stand at the door and knock. (Rev 3:20)
Help me to open the door of my heart to you, Lord.
January 2, May 3, September 2
Run, while you have the light of life .....
I have reached an age when the possibility of the darkness of death overtaking me hovers on the edge of my consciousness. Sometimes I can be defeated by the sense that I have left it too late, wasted too many opportunities, chosen too many wrong paths, simply not loved enough. I am very aware of all I still need to do, of all I still need to be, to become. Two lines from a hymn resonate with me:
The chances I have missed, the graces I resist ,
Lord, in thy Eucharist take and redeem.
What is God still calling me to do?
Who is God still calling me to be, to become?
I have not much time left. In another sense I have as much as I always had - I have today.
Today, in which to hear his voice, to listen, to open my eyes to the light, to love.
Let me not waste today, it is a gift, a fresh chance to love, to serve, to make good use of all God has given me.
There is always a danger of feeling defeated because I forget that I am not walking this path alone, the Lord walks with me, as he walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. I am not walking in darkness, I have the light of life. Emmanuel, God With Us.
Lord, help me to listen to your voice in all today's situations, in each relationship. Help me not to waste today. Give me the grace I need to become the person you created me to be.
The love that I have wasted, O God of love renew (Stanbrook Lauds Hymn)
Jan 3, May 4, September 3
Do I long for life and fulfilment?
There is a sense of excitement here!
What do I imagine as I think of life, of fulfilment? What would it be for me?
I have come that you may have life and have it to the full (John 10)
Eternal life is this, to know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (John 17)
Eternal life, eternal relationship. I think what this might mean in terms of love, joy, fulfilment ...
Why would I not want it? Why would I not want to turn from the wrong path, from saying and doing destructive things, from being less than I could be?
The way of life. What is stopping me from taking this path? Why the hesitation?
I am really struck here by the longing of God for my response to his call.
Essentially my commitment to the path was made when I was baptised and renewed in my oblation, but the Lord knows our need for loving encouragement to hang in there through the very ordinary circumstances of our lives.
Am I going to disappoint him today? Or am I, today, going to say yes, this is the path I want to follow, and I will not be walking it alone. I will listen to his loving call in each situation today, in each relationship, in each phone call, each e mail, each encounter, each minor setback, each plan that doesn't work out, in all the good moments too!
You have shown me the path of life.
I pray for the grace I need today to seek peace and pursue it.
January 4, May 5, September 4
One of the translations I have of the Rule speaks here of renewing our faith and setting ourselves high standards by which to lead our lives, with the Gospel for our guide. I suspect we may honestly feel that we have done this, so why is it that all too often we are not doing or saying, let alone thinking, what is right?
Am I in fact casting myself and my thoughts and words before Christ, when the temptation arises to think or say or do something less than loving, something unforgiving, resentful, biting, hurtful, impatient, selfish, self-centred, intolerant, unkind, uncharitable, judgemental....?
Would it make a difference if, before I meet someone with whom I have a stressful relationship, I asked Christ for help? And if I meet them unexpectedly, maybe I need to send up a quick prayer before I open my mouth!
Would I be a less angry/critical/uncharitable....person if I had asked help to be the person God calls me to be in this situation?
I have to remind myself again and again that this is not a do-it-yourself job. I need God's help. I need the grace he offers. I need to invite him into the nitty-gritty of my life. The big decision was taken years ago, the commitment made and indeed kept, in the overall direction of my life. But at ground level, on an average Wednesday morning in November, I may sense I am adrift.
I pray to be able to trust that God is right here with me in my less than perfect life, loving me, encouraging me to be the best version of myself, picking me up when it all feels as if it has gone wrong, walking with me along all the roads of my life.
Jan 5, May 6, Sept 5
The story of the man who builds his house on rock may make me feel a bit smug. Surely I am amongst the builders-on-rock, a fully paid-up practising Christian, a Benedictine, maybe a pillar of this or that aspect of Parish or community life..... but the Rule goes on to suggest that the Lord is nevertheless still waiting, every day, for my response in concrete terms, in actual acts of kindness and peace-making and reconciliation and sacrificial love.
Benedict speaks of our lives in terms of time given, lengthened even, to enable us to get our act together.
The Lord does not want the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his sin and live.
I have come that you may have life....
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world...
Make us know the shortness of our life
That we may gain wisdom of heart (Ps 89/90)