The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 37
The first sentence of this chapter offers a small window into the intentions behind St. Benedict's Rule, and I think this window gives us a view of an answer to a common question, "Why would anyone want to commit her life to living in this way?"
The natural dispositions of a human being, as good as they can be in certain circumstances, are not a basis on which to build a healthy, whole person or community. This chapter, for example, deals with the emotional tendencies most people show towards the very young and the very old. It's clear, however, that not everyone is identically disposed towards children or the elderly. So by formalizing a good disposition and imbuing it with the authority of the Rule, our Father Benedict frees the value of "special kindness towards these times of life" from dependency on an individual's affectionate emotion and places it in relationship to the standard by which the Benedictine has vowed to live her life.
When I consider my experience under the tyranny of affect and feelings as measures of "health" and "wholeness," this is, to me, true freedom.