7 Quotes on the Feast Day of St. Benedict

By Amelia Hamilton Published on July 11, 2015

Today is the Feast Day of a man who has had a profound impact on monasticism in the West: St. Benedict of Nursia. American Catholic provides a brief summary of his work:

Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome and early in life was drawn to the monastic life. At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing world — pagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.

He soon realized that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years. Some monks chose him as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste. Still, the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him. He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one “Grand Monastery” to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity, permanent worship in one house. Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world — Monte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountains north of Naples.

The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor and living together in community under a common father (abbot). Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside. In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict

Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches: the Benedictine Federation and the Cistercians.

To better understand the man, here are seven quotes from The Rule of St Benedict:

  1. “Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.”
  2. “The first degree of humility is prompt obedience.”
  3. “And let them first pray together, that so they may associate in peace.”
  4. “He should first show them in deeds rather than words all that is good and holy.”
  5. “He should know that whoever undertakes the government of souls must prepare himself to account for them.”
  6. “Wherefore let us consider how it behoveth us to be in the sight of God and the angels, and so let us take our part in the psalmody that mind and voice accord together.”
  7. “For at all times we must so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that he may not, as an angry Father, disinherit his children, nor as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil deeds, deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who refuse to follow Him to glory.”
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