Dom Geraldo González y Lima, OSB
Member of the International Team of AIM

The ‘Mirror’ –
starting from the Rule and Life of St Benedict

 

PGeraldo‘Is there anyone here who aspires to life and wants to see happy days?’ (RB, Prol)

This document is one more attempt to respond to this question and, from a general point of view, it has been written as a reflection to be read and discussed on community occasions such as days of reflection or even retreats; nevertheless it can be used in a personal way.
In practical terms it is recommended to read the introduction and ‘The general condition of the world and of monastic life today’ in order to understand the framework of this document. To facilitate
the use of this document some questions have been suggested at the end of ‘the general condition…’ and at the end of each theme or subject developed in the reflections which follow.
Each theme presumes a time of personal reflection followed by community discussion so that – depending on the size of the community – at least two hours will be needed to read and discuss each theme. For each of these themes I here suggest some texts of the Rule of St Benedict and of Book II of the Dialogues of St Gregory, The Life and Miracles of Benedict. After this reflection, just as St Benedict did, we will be ready to make progress in our monastic life ‘learnedly ignorant and wisely open-minded’ (Book II of the Dialogues of St Gregory).

Suggestions

The general condition of the world and of monastic life today


Rule

. Prologue
. Chapter 73: Not the Whole Observance of Righteousness is laid down in this Rule.

Dialogues

. Prologue
. Chapter 17: How the man of God, Benedict, foretold the suppression of one of his own Abbeys.
. Chapter 35: How he saw the whole world represented before his eyes: and also the soul of Germanus, Bishop of Capua, ascending to heaven.
. Chapter 36: How holy Benedict wrote a rule for his monks.
. Chapter 37: How venerable Benedict prophesied to his monks, the time of his own death.


1. Community: ‘To build up community life and live it fully.’

Rule

. Chapter 1: Of the Kinds or the Life of Monks.
. Chapter 3: Of Calling the Brethren for Counsel.
. Chapter 4: The Instruments of Good Works.
. Chapter 5: Of Obedience.
. Chapter 6: Of Silence.
. Chapter 7: Of Humility.
. Chapter 68: If a Brother is commanded to do impossible things.
. Chapter 69: That in the Monastery no one presume to defend another.
. Chapter 70: That no one presume to strike another.
. Chapter 71: That the brethren be obedient to one another.
. Chapter 72: Of the virtuous zeal which the Monks ought to have.

Dialogues

. Chapter 1: How he made a broken sieve whole and sound.
. Chapter 2: How he overcame a great temptation of the flesh.
. Chapter 3: How Benedict, by the sign of the holy cross, broke a drinking-glass in pieces.


2. Leadership: The education and formation of responsible monks

Rule

. Chapter 2: What kind of man the Abbot ought to be.
. Chapter 21: Of the deans of the Monastery.
. Chapter 64: Of the election of the Abbot.
. Chapter 65 : Of the Prior of the Monastery.

Dialogues

. Chapter 5: Of a fountain that sprung forth in the top of a mountain, by the prayers of the man of God.
. Chapter 9: How venerable Benedict, by his prayer, removed a huge stone.
. Chapter 22: How, by vision, venerable Benedict disposed the building of the Abbey of Taracina.


3. Formation: initial and continuous formation and the formation of formators

Rule

. Chapter 23: Of excommunication for Faults.
. Chapter 24: What the manner of excommunication should be.
. Chapter 25: Of graver Faults.
. Chapter 26: Of those who without the command of the Abbot associate with the Excommunicated.
. Chapter 27: How concerned the Abbot should be about the Excommunicated.
. Chapter 28: Of those who having often been corrected do not amend.
. Chapter 29: Whether brethren who leave the Monastery ought to be received again.
. Chapter 30: How young boys are to be corrected.

Dialogues

. Chapter 20: How holy Benedict knew the proud thought of one of his Monks.
. Chapter 25: How a Monk, forsaking the Abbey, met with a dragon in the way.


4. Vocations: discernment and promotion of monastic vocations

Rule

. Chapter 58: Of the manner of admitting brethren.
. Chapter 59: Of the children of the Noble and of the Poor who are offered.
. Chapter 60: Of priests who may wish to live in the Monastery.
. Chapter 61: How stranger monks are to be received.

Dialogues

. Chapter 6: How the iron head of a axe, from the bottom of the water, returned to the handle again.
. Chapter 7: How Maurus walked upon the water.


5. Work: adapted monastic work, development of a serious work ethic

Rule

. Chapter 48: Of the daily work.
. Chapter 49: On the keeping of Lent.
. Chapter 57: Of the Artists of the Monastery.

Dialogues

. Chapter 27: How Benedict found money miraculously to relieve a poor man.
. Chapter 28: How a glass vessel was thrown upon the stones, and not broken.
. Chapter 29: How an empty barrel was filled with oil.


6. Financial stability: to become a community financially viable - on financial dependence and autonomy

Rule

. Chapter 31: The kind of man the Cellarer of the Monastery ought to be.
. Chapter 32: Of the tools and goods of the Monastery.
. Chapter 33: Whether monks ought to have anything of their own.
. Chapter 34: Whether all should receive in equal measure what is necessary.

Dialogues

Chapter 21: Of two hundred bushels of meal, found before the man of God’s cell.

 

7. The monastery and the world, separation and immersion

Rule

. Chapter 53: Of the reception of Guests.
. Chapter 56: Of the Abbot’s table.
. Chapter 66: Of the porter of the Monastery.
. Chapter 67: Of the brethren who are sent on a journey.

Dialogues

. Chapter 15: How venerable Benedict prophesied to king Totila, and also to the Bishop of Camisina, what would later happen.
. Chapter 33: Of a miracle wrought by his sister Scholastica.