S. Benedicti Regula


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The Monastic Vows


The first degree of humility is prompt obedience. This is required of all who, whether by reason of the holy servitude to which they are pledged, or through fear of hell, or to attain to the glory of eternal life, hold nothing more dear than Christ. Such disciples delay not in doing what is ordered by their superior, just as if the command had come from God. . . .

Let us do as the prophet says, "I have said, I will keep my ways, that I offend not with my tongue. I have been watchful over my mouth; I held my peace and humbled myself and was silent from speaking even good things."1 Here the prophet shows that, for the sake of silence, we are at times to abstain even from good talk. If this is so, how much more needful is it that we refrain from evil words, on account of the penalty of the sin! Because of the importance of silence, therefore, let leave to speak be seldom given, even to perfect disciples, although their talk is of good and holy matters and tending to edification. . . .

The first step of humility is reached when a man, with the fear of God always before his eyes . . . is ever mindful of all God’s commandments. He remembers, moreover, that those who condemn God fall into hell for their sins, and that life eternal awaits those who fear Him. . . .

The second step of humility is reached when a man takes no heed to satisfy his own desires, but copies in his life what our Lord said, "I came not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."2 Scripture likewise proclaims that self-will engenders punishment, and necessity purchases a crown.

The third step of humility is reached when a man, for the love of God, submits himself with all obedience to a superior, imitating our Lord, of whom the apostle says, "He was made obedient even unto death."3

The fourth step of humility is reached when anyone in the exercise of his obedience patiently and with a quiet mind bears all that is inflicted on him, even things contrary to nature and at times unjust, and in suffering all these he neither wearies nor abandons the work, since the Scripture says, "He only that perseveres to the end shall be saved";4 also, "Let thy heart be comforted and expect the Lord."5 . . .

The fifth step of humility is reached when a monk manifests to his abbot, by humble confession, all the evil thoughts of his heart and his secret faults. The Scripture urges us to do this where it says, "Commit thy way to the Lord and hope in Him."1 It also says, "Confess to the Lord, because He is good, because His mercy endures forever."2 . . .

The sixth step of humility is reached when a monk is content with all that is mean and vile; and in regard to everything required of him accounts himself a poor and worthless workman, saying with the prophet, "I have been brought to nothing, and knew it not. I have become as a beast before Thee, and I am always with Thee."3

The seventh step of humility is reached when a man not only confesses with his tongue that he is most lowly and inferior to others, but in his inmost heart believes so. . . .

The eighth step of humility is reached when a monk does nothing but what the common rule of the monastery, or the example of his seniors, enforces.

The ninth step of humility is reached when a monk restrains his tongue from talking, and, practicing silence, speaks not till a question is asked him, since Scripture says, "In many words thou shalt not avoid sin,"4 and "A talkative man shall not be directed upon the earth."5

The tenth step of humility is attained when one is not easily and quickly moved to laughter, for it is written, "The fool lifts his voice in laughter."6

The eleventh step of humility is reached when a monk, in speaking, does so quietly and without laughter, humbly, gravely, in a few words, and not with a loud voice, for it is written, "A wise man is known by a few words."7

The twelfth step of humility is reached when a monk not only has humility in his heart, but also shows it to all who behold him. Thus, whether he is in the oratory at prayer, in the monastery, in the garden, on a journey, in the fields, or wheresoever he is, sitting, standing or walking, always let him, with head bent and eyes fixed on the ground, bethink himself of his sins and imagine that he is arraigned before the dread judgment of God. . . .

When all these steps of humility have been mounted, the monk will presently attain to that love of God which is perfect and casteth out fear. By means of this love everything which before he had observed not without fear, he shall now begin to do by habit, without any trouble and, as it were, naturally. He acts now, not through fear of hell, but for the love of Christ, out of a good habit and a delight in virtue. . . .

3 , 5–7.

1Psalms, xxxix, 1–2.

2John, vi, 38.

3Philippians, ii, 8.

4Matthew, xxiv, 13.

5Psalms, xxvii, 14.

1Psalms, xxxvii, 5.

2Ibid., cvi, 1.

3Ibid., lxxiii, 22–23.

4Proverbs, x, 19.

5Psalms, cxl, 11.

6Ecclesiastes, x, 14.

7Ibid., xxi., 23.


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Chicago: "The Monastic Vows," S. Benedicti Regula in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 293–295. Original Sources, accessed December 1, 2023, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PVXWDTN2WXS4KN.

MLA: . "The Monastic Vows." S. Benedicti Regula, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 293–295. Original Sources. 1 Dec. 2023. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PVXWDTN2WXS4KN.

Harvard: , 'The Monastic Vows' in S. Benedicti Regula. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.293–295. Original Sources, retrieved 1 December 2023, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PVXWDTN2WXS4KN.