St. Benedict of Nursia Criticism - Essay

Cuthbert Butler (essay date 1919)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "St. Benedict" and "St. Benedict's Idea" in Bendictine Monachism: Studies in Benedictine Life and Rule, Longmans, Green and Co., 1919, pp. 1-10; 23-34.

[In the following excerpt, Butler surveys St. Benedict's life and monastic ideals.]

St Benedict

One morning, in the early spring of the first year of the century, I was standing at a cave, looking out into the darkness that still enshrouded the scene. And as I looked the first streaks of dawn began gradually to lift the shroud of night and to reveal, first the rugged mountains across the ravine that lay beneath my feet; and then the cruel naked rocks, with never a tree or shrub to...

(The entire section is 8415 words.)

Cardinal Gasquet (essay date 1929)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Rule of Saint Benedict, translated by Cardinal Gasquet, Cooper Square Publishers, Inc., 1966, pp. ix-xxviii.

[In the following introduction to his 1929 translation of the Rule of St. Benedict, Gasquet examines Benedict's religious and monastic ideals and the influence of these in early medieval Europe.]

The Rule of St. Benedict may fitly find a place in any collection of classics. As a code of laws it has undoubtedly influenced Europe; and, indeed, there is probably no other book, save of course the Holy Bible, which with such certainty can be claimed as a chief factor in the work of European civilization. It is undeniable...

(The entire section is 3333 words.)

Justin McCann (essay date 1937)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Text-History of the Rule" and "The Contents of the Rule" in Saint Benedict, Sheed and Ward, 1937, pp. 117-46.

[In the following excerpt, McCann offers a textual history of the Rule of St. Benedict and summarizes its principal statements on the structure of Benedictine monastic life.]

Scripsit monachorum regulam discretione praecipuam, sermone luculentam

(Dial. II, 36)

There are two standard modem editions of the Latin text of the Rule, those of Abbot Butler (2nd ed., 1927) and Dom Benno Linderbauer (1928). Dom Linderbauer's is a...

(The entire section is 7843 words.)

Stephanus Hilpisch (essay date 1950)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "St. Benedict and His Foundation" in Benedictinism through Changing Centuries, translated by Leonard J. Doyle, St. John's Abbey Press, 1958, pp. 11-7.

[In the following excerpt, originally published in German in 1950, Hilpisch comments on St. Benedict's life and the organization of his monastery at Monte Cassino.]

Benedictine monachism, customarily called the Benedictine Order in later times, is the oldest monastic community of the Western Church, its origin dating all the way from Christian antiquity. Its founder, teacher and lawgiver, St. Benedict, was born about the year 480 in the Sabine mountains, in the old Italian province of Nursia. His parents belonged...

(The entire section is 2690 words.)

Ildephonse Cardinal Schuster (essay date 1951)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Liturgical Work of St. Benedict" in Saint Benedict and His Times, translated by Gregory J. Roettger, O. S. B., B. Herder Book Co., 1951, pp. 228-36.

[In the following essay, Schuster details the influential liturgy St. Benedict outlined in his Rule—later known as the Cursus S. Benedicti.]

Besides the Roman rite, the Oriental rite, and the Ambrosian rite, the Middle Ages also recognize a Cursus S. Benedicti, that is, they give the Patriarch's name to the entire liturgy of the Divine Office which the monks day and night chanted in their monastery churches. This special rite of the Opus Dei, as the Patriarch usually calls the Divine...

(The entire section is 3454 words.)

Justin McCann (essay date 1952)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: A preface to The Rule of Saint Benedict, edited and translated by Justin McCann, The Newman Press, 1952, pp. vii-xxiv.

[In the following excerpt from his preface to The Rule of Saint Benedict, McCann recounts the early history of the Rule and discusses issues surrounding its language and textual history.]

Saint Benedict lived and worked in central Italy in the first half of the sixth century, the approximate date of his death being A.D. 547. His life began and ended with periods of devastating war, during which Italy was gravely disorganized; but at its centre, under the masterful rule of Theodoric (493-526), it knew some thirty years of peace....

(The entire section is 4495 words.)

Sighard Kleiner (essay date 1974)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Foreward," "The Cult of the Rule," and "The Rule of Today" in Serving God First: Insights on "The Rule of St. Benedict," translated by James Scharinger, Cistercian Publications, 1985, pp. 3-10.

[In the following excerpt from his Dieu premier servi (Serving God First), originally published in French in 1974, Kleiner comments on the spiritual importance of the Rule of St. Benedict and its enduring role in Christian life.]

Serve God First: there is here a norm, a measure, a hierarchy of values. It appears to be beyond question, yet it is not easy. We hear about the human crisis nowadays. A crisis is a reversal of values and criteria....

(The entire section is 2947 words.)

Antoine Vergote (lecture date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Psychological Approach to Humility in the Rule of St. Benedict," American Benedictine Review, Vol. 39, No. 4, December, 1988, pp. 404-29.

[In the following essay, originally delivered as a lecture in 1976, Vergote offers an interpretation of humility in the Rule of St. Benedict, tracing the ideals of obedience and self-knowledge expressed in Benedict's text and in the Christian scriptures.]

I humbly beg you to listen, for you have given me a stiff challenge: I must speak to you about a text which is so familiar to you and about which I know so little. And I must do this before exegetes, historians, philologists and I don't know what.

...

(The entire section is 10493 words.)

David N. Bell (essay date 1978)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Vision of the World and of the Archetypes in the Latin Spirituality of the Middle Ages" in Archives: D'Histoire Doctrinal et Littéraire du Moyen Age, Librarie Philosophique J. Vrin, 1978, pp. 7-31.

[In the following excerpt, Bell discusses various interpretations of St. Benedict's visio mundi, or "vision of the world," as recorded in Gregory the Great's biography of Benedict.]

Our source for this mysterious vision is Gregory the Great's life of Benedict, which forms the second book of the Dialogues. The saint (Gregory tells us) was standing at the window of a tower, and saw, to his wonder, "sicut post ipse narravit, omnis etiam mundus velut...

(The entire section is 3319 words.)

André Zegveld (essay date 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Guide: The Rule of St. Benedict," The American Benedictine Review, Vol. 36, No. 4, December, 1985, pp. 372-93.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1981, Zegveld presents an overview of the fundamental concerns in the Rule of St. Benedict and explores how the Rule is to be interpreted and obeyed in the modern era.]

The Call

In the writings of the New Testament a strong undercurrent of longing for the Kingdom of God makes itself felt, a longing for a new world, a new society entirely penetrated by the spirit of Jesus Christ, a desire for a new heaven and a new earth, in a word, for a life based on the...

(The entire section is 8832 words.)

Benedicta Ward (essay date 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Miracles of St. Benedict" in Benedictus: Studies in Honor of St. Benedict of Nursia, edited by E. Rozanne Elder, Cistercian Publications, 1981, pp. 1-14.

[In the following essay, Ward investigates accounts and changing conceptions of the miracles associated with St. Benedict.]

'One day when the brethren of this monastery were quarreling, one of them met St Benedict outside the door and the saint immediately gave him this command: "Go and tell the brethren that they give me no rest. I am leaving this house and let them know that I shall not return until I bring from Aquitaine a man who shall be after my own heart." "1 The place is the abbey of St...

(The entire section is 6870 words.)

Thomas X. Davis (essay date 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Loss of Self in the Degrees of Humility in the Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter VII" in Benedictus: Studies in Honor of St. Benedict of Nursia, edited by E. Rozanne Elder, Cistercian Publications, 1981, pp. 23-9.

[In the following essay, Davis summarizes the twelve degrees of humility in the Rule of St. Benedict, focusing on the state of selflessness required to achieve humility and realize the complete love of God.]

The God-Exemplar

'In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord.1 In the christian dimension, the loss of...

(The entire section is 2726 words.)

A. W. Richard Sipe (essay date 1983)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Psychological Dimensions of the Rule of St. Benedict," The American Benedictine Review, Vol. 34, No. 4, December, 1983, pp. 424-35.

[In the following essay, Sipe endeavors "to extrapolate ten essential psychological features that show [Benedict's] understanding of the human experience" that are addressed by the monastic experience.]

Benedict of Nursia, born in 480 A.D., wrote a brief rule—an order for a way of life—for monks. In 1980, approximately 30,000 men and women around the world claim this rule as their guide. That one fact alone would be of interest: why do some things endure over long centuries? But it is not simply durability that impresses...

(The entire section is 4223 words.)

Peter E. Hammett (essay date 1988)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Care for the Individual in the Rule of Benedict," The American Benedictine Review, Vol. 39, No. 3, September, 1988, pp. 277-86.

[In the following essay, Hammett demonstrates "how a genuine care for the subjective dimensions of the monk's personality" is reflected in the Rule of Benedict.]

We live in a world which places a great deal of emphasis on the subject and on the psychological aspects of the person. Since the Enlightenment, philosophy's turn to the subject and a deepening understanding of the psychological dimensions of the human person have become characteristic of our contemporary Western world-view. The basic thesis of this paper is that this turn to...

(The entire section is 3732 words.)

Jerome Theisen (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Personal Prayer in the Rule of Benedict," The American Benedictine Review, Vol. 40, No. 3, September, 1989, pp. 291-303.

[In the following essay, Theisen focuses on the methods of prayer and sacred reading contained in the Rule of St. Benedict.]

The monk in Benedict's monastery leads a rather simple and balanced life: public prayer with the community; private reading, study, and prayer; manual labor; public reading; refection; and sleep. In this paper I propose to look at 1) features of personal or private prayer in the Rule of Benedict, 2) notions of listening to the word of God, 3) values of sacred reading, and 4) methods of listening and praying. My...

(The entire section is 4808 words.)

Adalbert de Vogüé (essay date 1991)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Humility" in Reading Saint Benedict: Reflections on the "Rule," translated by Colette Friedlander, 0. C. S. O., Cistercian Publications, 1994, pp. 75-100.

[In the following essay, originally published in French in 1991, de Vogüé undertakes an exegesis of the seventh chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict, which describes a monk's spiritual ascension to heaven upon the ladder of humility. Footnote numbers designate line numbers of the Rule throughout this essay.]

This chapter [the seventh], which is longer and more important than any other, does not simply describe one of the monk's great virtues. Because that virtue, as we have seen, encompasses...

(The entire section is 8565 words.)