The Rule of St. Benedict: Prologue Pt. 1
Listen carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to God from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.
Thus begins the Rule of St. Benedict, one of the most influential documents in the history of Western Civilization. These words have been read aloud in countless languages, in empires long passed and in nations young and old, among humble wood and towering stone, for fifteen centuries.
To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.
Imagine yourself, somewhere along that winding trail of history, hearing as one that has come from the fields as a peasant, or as a noble from the manor on a hill, to the gate of a Benedictine monastery. You’ve been given food and lodging in the guest quarters, and you’ve been received among the novices where you have studied, eaten, slept, and been instructed for several weeks. When the time arrives that you have shown yourself ready, you are brought into a common room, you sit down, and the Rule is read aloud to you by your Novice Master. There is no doubt that it is “you” to whom St. Benedict’s “words are now addressed.”
What might you have heard that first time? What would have captured your imagination or cut you to the quick? What would have scared you? What would have offered comfort?
As you sit in that room, you hear that your first priority along the Benedictine way is to develop the capacity to listen with the ear of your heart to the Voice of God in your every given circumstance. Your second priority is to learn to obey that Voice rather than your own.
You hear that this capacity is to be developed and obedience is to be learned through receiving the loving advice of your Holy Father Benedict. This advice calls you into an ordered life that holds a gentle balance between prayer, work, and study that will slowly and persistently shape you into a new person, a fully realized being who dwells in the very Presence of God.