What does the Rule of Benedict have to say about Humility, Reverence of Prayer, Silence, Obedience and Daily Work?
The Rule of Benedictine is very specific in the issues of humility, silence, obedience and daily work. The issue of prayer is so significant and deliberate that it is discussed in eight chapters. The Benedictine monks cannot hold any property, cannot go beyond the monastery walls and cannot even get letters from home without the consent of the abbot.
Humility is an enduring patience without complaint. An example is regarding the clothing of the monks. They should be “content with what can be found…and purchased cheaply”. Specifically as to humility the rule states:
The fourth degree of humility
is that he holds fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away. Chapter 7:35
Prayers are specifically defined by the rule. Given the time of year and the number of prayers or psalms to be stated are specific. The rules for prayer are enumerated in Chapters 9 through 17. Chapter 9 states:
In winter time as defined above,
there is first this verse to be said three times:
"O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare your praise."
To it is added Psalm 3 and the "Glory be to the Father,"
and after that Psalm 94 to be chanted with an antiphon
or even chanted simply.
A disciple is to be silent and listen. Only the mistress/abbot can speak and teach. If anything has to be asked it must be done with ‘humility and submission inspired by reverence”.
Daily work is approximately six hours daily. Work is described as “diligently executing all these tasks in the enclosure of the monastery and stability in the community”.
Chapter 5 refers to obedience and that “humility is obedience without delay... and this is a vurtue of those who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ...” If a superior makes a request it is seen as “divine” and must be executed without delay.