The Rule of St Benedict

September 26, 2009

Rule of St Benedict


Chapter 22 of the Rule of St Benedict says the following:

“They shall sleep separately in separate beds. They shall receive positions for their beds, after the manner of their characters, according to the dispensation of their abbot. If it can be done, they shall all sleep in one place. If, however, their number do not permit it, they shall rest, by tens or twenties, with elders who will concern themselves about them. A candle shall always be burning in that same cell until early in the morning. They shall sleep clothed, and girt with belts or with ropes; and they shall not have their knives at their sides while they sleep, lest perchance in a dream they should wound the sleepers. And let the monks be always on the alert; and, when the signal is given, rising without delay, let them hasten to mutually prepare themselves for the service of God with all gravity and modesty, however. The younger brothers shall not have beds by themselves, but interspersed among those of the elder ones. And when they rise for the service of God, they shall exhort each other mutually with moderation on account of the excuses that those who are sleepy are inclined to make.”

Now of course this is an interesting chapter but I have never found it particularly significant (sorry … but I am being honest!). But you know today, Trish Panton, the International Director of WCCM Benedictine Oblates helped me to see this is a totally new light. She picked up on St Benedict talking about monks not taking their knives to bed. I had always thought this was an entirely practical measure. But Trish challenged us to leave our knives at the side of the bed too! If we are sincere about following the Rule of St Benedict then we do should put aside and seek forgiveness for damage we caused during the day. If we do not we may well damage our own souls and bodies with knives of our own making.




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