Queen's counsel VII

March 2002

We started the second term at Queen's with a residential weekend on Christian Spirituality in which we explored a variety of contexts including the life and rule of St. Benedict. The example of this holy man and his writings from the sixth century made him one of the great "Fathers" of the West and the movement that bears his name still continues to flourish today. In the early days, Benedict founded a series of monasteries, each for a dozen brothers, and established life with a good balance between work and prayer. His rule governs the way that life in the monastery was conducted in all its diversity.

He himself described his rule as "a little rule for beginners" but it has clearly been recognized as a masterpiece of spiritual wisdom. Although it seems as though he drew on various other writings that were around, e.g. "the Rule of the Master", "Sayings of the Fathers", as well as holy scripture, he was able to condense them towards the essence of good living. He also included advice about community, giving it potential for much wider application than originally intended. There are examples today of workshops that are conducted within industry and commerce based on the principles contained in the rule.

Benedictines make three vows:

  1.  stability that may be associated with the need not to run away and to recognise dependence on God's love and faithfulness.
  2.  fidelity that may be interpreted as being open to change and being able at all times to respond to the word of God.
  3.  obedience that indicates being prepared to listen to one's fellows and to "let everyone that comes be received as Christ".

I am intrigued by one of our essay titles this year that is to "analyse the relevance of the Rule of St.Benedict to ordinary Christians living in our modern, secular world" and I intend to explore this further. I also hope to share some of this with you during the meditation on Wednesday 6th March when there is an opportunity to share "Celebrating Faith" with our friends from all the Codsall Churches at St. Nicholas. As a taster, here are two verses (with no fewer than eight biblical allusions) from Benedict's Prologue to the Rule:

But as we progress in this way of life and in faith,
we shall run on the path of God's commandments, our hearts overflowing
with the inexpressible delight of love.

Never swerving from instructions, then,
but faithfully observing his teaching in the monastery until death,
we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also
to share in his kingdom.


This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
This page was last updated on 2002-02-11

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