The Rule of Saint Benedict, as expressed by Benedict, is not a graduate-level course for spiritual geniuses. The Rule is more like Spiritual Kindergarten. It is not for those who have progressed and graduated from a long process of spiritual development and maturity. It is for those who are looking for a place to start. It is an entry level spirituality. It is the simple spiritual arithmetic of adding and subtracting that makes the more advanced spiritual Trigonometry and Calculus of religious maturity possible.
Many people have found wisdom in the pages of Saint Benedict’s Rule. Many have found a sense of order – personal, spiritual, and social – amidst the seemingly increasing disorder around them. Some may dismiss the Rule as a simple set of dos and don’ts that they have no interest in following. Others have come to view the Rule as a simple expression of helpful suggestions that foster stability and peace.
If only all that monastic stuff were removed, then perhaps what remained would be of value to the rest of us. If the remaining chapters were pared down in places, and the language were more common, then, perhaps it would become more applicable to everyday life. If words like “monastery,” “abbot,” and even “monk” were removed, and replaced with words like “community,” “religious leader,” and “religious people,” then maybe we could see how to utilize it in our homes, with our families, at our places of employment, and in our churches. There are no more “If onlys” about it. That is what this book set out to do.
Always we begin again: day by day, month by month, year by year, second by second, breath by breath, and with The Rule of Saint Benedict, page by page, chapter by chapter. The end takes us back to the beginning, and the beginning guides us once more to the ending. The Rule is a beginning, but we are never finished. We simply begin again, who and where we are at that moment.