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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 306

The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.

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This statement, at the beginning of chapter 5, a chapter on obedience, sums up many of the central themes of this rule. Benedict advocated for obedience, humility, and patience as chief virtues people needed both to live together successfully in community and to find Christian salvation. Trusting in and deferring to one's spiritual superiors prepares the soul for trusting and obeying God. Humility puts others' needs first and is central to the harmonious operation of the monastery.

Idleness is an enemy of the soul.

This famous quote comes from chapter 48, a short chapter on the importance of manual labor. While Benedict calls for daily manual labor, he also calls for fixed times every day for "sacred reading." And while one should be humbly grateful for manual labor, as it follows in the footsteps of church fathers and the apostles of Christ, he also advises it "in moderation" so as not to discourage the faint-hearted. It is also worth noting that Benedict calls idleness the enemy of the "soul," not the body, again emphasizing that his rule is meant to guide followers to Christian salvation and paradise in the afterlife.

Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, “I came as a guest, and you received Me.”

Hospitality was important to the Benedictines, as this quote at the beginning of chapter 53 attests. Guests are to be received warmly, treated with kindness, generosity, and compassion, and be prayed with. Benedict makes special note of treating the "poor" with respect, stating the rich will be treated respectfully automatically. He states guests must be approached with humility and not asked to follow the fasts that may be occurring when they arrive. Prayer must precede the "kiss of peace" that all guests are to be offered.

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