Chapter Seventy Three
Now, we have written this Rule that, observing it in religious communities, we may show that we have acquired at least some moral righteousness, or a beginning of the monastic life. On the other hand, they that hasten on to the perfection of the religious life, have at hand the teachings of the holy fathers and mothers, the observance of which leads one to the height of perfection. For what page or what utterance of the divinely inspired books of the Old and the New Testament is not a most exact rule of human life? Or, what book of the holy catholic fathers and mothers does not loudly proclaim how we may go straight to our Creator? So, too, the collations of the fathers and mothers, and their institutes and lives, and the rule of our holy father, Basil—what are they but the monuments of the virtues of exemplary and obedient religious? But for us slothful, wrong-living, and negligent religious they are a source for shame and confusion. You, therefore, who hasten to the heavenly home, with the help of Christ fulfill this least rule written for a beginning; and then you shall with God's help attain at last to the greater heights of knowledge and virtue which we have mentioned above.
Here at the conclusion of his Rule, St. Benedict models remarkable humility with regard to his own work. From his example we can learn to hold gently the good that comes from our lives, recognizing that it is by God's love and grace that we have been brought to the place we inhabit.
This final chapter is a helpful reminder that means to do not equal ends, and that it is the end, the goal, the telos of our life that matters. We are formed by our Benedictine practices to find our true self at home with God, and to find God at home in our lives. We are all beginners, and we will always need to begin again.
Let us adopt our Father Benedict's humility, then. Let us seek to learn from other masters of the spiritual life and welcome the company of those on parallel journeys of spiritual formation. We do not own the pathway along which we hasten "to the heavenly homeland." St. Benedict would have us, here at the end, to open ourselves to whatever comes next. We are not to be proud of our identity and closed off to all that is not Benedictine. Built into our Benedictine spirituality is an understanding that it is not the be all and end all of human striving toward God. It is but one means to the end, but one for which we can be deeply grateful.