This Saint, whose name means “blessed,” was born in 480 in Nursia, Umbria, Italy. It is a small town about seventy miles northeast of Rome. As a young man, he struggled with how best to lead a Christian life and felt that asceticism was the answer. His example drew many who desired to emulate him and so he made the Rule of Benedict so others could.
His Rule continues to be followed by every Benedictine monastery and convent in the world today. It was inspired by the writings of Saint John Cassian (d. 435), Saint Basil the Great (d. 379), and other Holy Fathers. It became a pattern for monasticism in the West. You can read them all here at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
The Rule of Benedict, offers a plan for a balance, simple prayerful way of life. Prime among it is the dedication to work (opus dei) with vows of stability, conversion and obedience.
- Stability refers to a commitment in life: your community, your family, your friends, your personal chores and roles, your work.
- Conversion refers to a continual conversion that is that your commitment to Christ being ongoing and continuous. It should be reaffirmed daily so that we are always in communion with God.
- And finally obedience refers to cultivating a disciplined, intentional life.
To do this, the Rule requires 5 practices: Prayer, Work, Study, Hospitality and Renewal.
- Prayer is how you talk to God. It can be either communal, privately, via meditation or even extemporaneously. All is good. Often is best.
- Work is how you approach your place of employment and approach your job; honestly and thankfully, so you are a good example.
- Study is reading the Rule, studying the Bible, learning new things to keep your mind active and thriving, to avoid depression and stagnation.
- Hospitality is the act of inviting others into your home. The giving of extras you have and being friendly to all you meet. Kindness.
- Renewal is the discipline of keeping the Sabbath, cultivating a hobby, taking time to notice the beauty and abundance God has given us and then adding to it.
For all that Benedict did, he is often called the first teacher of monks in the West. He reposed in 547.
The Orthodox Apolytikion (Hymn) for Benedict is:
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Father. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ.
By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal.
Wherefore, O Holy Benedict, your soul rejoices with the angels.