In The Rule of Benedict, what was the life of a monk like?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Rule Of Benedict is a basic guide for the daily living of monks. According to the guide, all monks committed to the monastic lifestyle should willingly submit to:

1)Basic monastic virtues such as obedience, silence, and humility.

For monks, immediate obedience to superiors is expected. All monks are also expected to remain perpetually silent; a monk may only speak when given permission to, but permission is rarely granted. There are three degrees of humility a monk is to observe. He is to have deep reverence for God, be unselfish, and willingly submit himself to the authority of all his superiors.

2)Established rituals regarding prayer and manual labor.

Monks must carefully adhere to correct rituals for night, day, holiday, weekend, and seasonal devotions. For example, Sunday morning prayers begin with the recitation of Psalm 66, to be followed by Psalms 50, 117, and 62. After successive recitations and the singing of hymns, morning devotions end with a litany. Monks are expected to engage in manual labor apart from their religious devotions. After Prime (the first hour of prayer or about 6am), monks are expected to labor until the fourth hour.

3)Established corrective measures for the modification of negative behaviors.

For example, those who are habitually late to table for devotions or meals will be corrected up to two times. After that, the unfortunate monk will be separated from the common table, made to eat his meals alone, and have his portion of wine taken from him. For weightier infractions, a monk may have to eat and also labor apart from his peers.

4)Restrictions and established rules regarding the ingestion of food and drink.

All monks are expected to abstain from eating meat; the only exceptions are for those who are sick and infirm. At most, two meals are served every day. The younger monks are not allowed to ingest the same quantities of food as their elders. Two dishes are usually served at each meal; the availability of either fruits or vegetables may constitute a third dish. The abbot may add to the fare if the work is sufficiently arduous on any given day.

All monks are expected to refrain from over-indulgence and must observe the rules of frugality. Monks are allowed to imbibe a little wine at their own discretion. All who indulge are required to do so 'sparingly, and not to satiety' lest they over-indulge.

5)Established rules regarding the observation of holy days.

During Lent, all monks are expected to abstain from either eating, drinking, sleeping or any other indulgence, by permission and blessing of the Abbot.

6)Established rules regarding the manner of dress.

Monks are expected to dress simply in a tunic, a cowl, a scapular (for work), and stockings and shoes for the feet. Most monks are allowed no more than two cowls and two tunics.

7)Established rules regarding the reception of guests.

All guests are to be received with great care and solicitude, particularly the poor and those who are religious pilgrims. A separate kitchen is usually erected for the Abbot and guests so that the monks are not disturbed from their daily devotions and labor by the irregular hours of visitors. Monks are not allowed to fraternize with guests.

I hope that the above gives you an idea of what the life of a monk is like. Please refer to the link below for more on the life of a Benedictine monk.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial