This rule has been harmonized with the 1917 Code of Canon Law and contains the original Latin of the rule with English translation and commentary. The man of God, Benedict, among the many wonderful works that made him famous in this world, was also conspicuous for his teaching: for he wrote a Rule for monks, remarkable for discretion and rich in instruction. If anyone desires to know more deeply the life and character of the man, he may find in the ordinances of that Rule the exact image of his whole government: for the holy man cannot possibly have taught otherwise than as he lived." To this judgement of St. Gregory the Great,l so complete for all its grace of form and sobriety of language, we may yet add two observations: first that the moral beauty of St. Benedict, his temperament and almost his characteristics, are reflected also in the pages, at once candid and profound, of his biographer; secondly, that the Rule itself came, in the middle of the sixth century, as the ripe fruit of a considerable monastic past and of the spiritual teaching of the Fathers. St. Benedict was above all else a man of tradition. He was not the enthusiastic creator of an entirely new form of the religious life: neither nature nor grace disposed him to such a course. As may be seen from the last chapter of his Rule, he cared nothing for a reputation of originality, or for the glory of being a pioneer. He did not write till late, till he was on the threshold of eternity, after study and perhaps after experience of the principal monastic codes. Nearly every sentence reveals almost a fixed determination to base his ideas on those of the ancients, or at least to use their language and appropriate their terms. But even though the Rule were nothing but an intelligent compilation, even though it were merely put together with the study and spiritual insight of St. Benedict, with the spirit of orderliness, moderation, and lucidity of this Roman of old patrician stock, it would not for all that be a commonplace work: in actual fact, it stands as the complete and finished expression of the monastic ideal. Who can measure the extraordinary influence that these few pages have exercised, during fourteen centuries, over the general development of the Western world? Yet St. Benedict thought only of God and of souls desirous to go to God; in the tranquil simplicity of his faith he purposed only to establish a school of the Lord's service: Dominici schola servitii. But, just because of this singleminded pursuit of the one thing necessary, God has blessed the Rule of Monks with singular fruitfulness, and St. Benedict has taken his place in the line of the great patriarchs. We may almost say of the Benedictine Rule-what is certainly true of the Law of God-that it bears in itself its own justification, that it is self-sufficient; "the judgements of the Lord are true, justified in themselves," and that it only needs to be read and loved and lived. A practical commentary on words dictated by the Spirit of God has scarcely any other task than to spell them tenderly, to emphasize them wisely, and to put them in the clearest light. And, indeed, a long series of labours might very usefully converge on a literal explanation of the Rule: a study, for instance, of monastic institutions from the holy ventures of the Church of Jerusalem and the heroism of the Thebaid to St.Basil and to St. Benedict ; a study of the life of St.Benedict; a critical history of the text of the Rule and a history of its diffusion; an account of the living interpretation furnished by the customaries and the Rules modelled on St. Benedict's; and finally a view of contemporary monachism.
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