Rule of St. Benedict

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Rule of St. Benedict lecture series

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#set-rule-of-st-benedict, Aelred Squire says "Canonically professed to the Rule of Benedict since 1982". But "touchstone for 40 years this year." #00921 Side A, he says "40 years September of last year". This #01060 precedes #00921 by one year. 


Well, I ought, at the very outset, to say very briefly what I am, with perhaps more
simplicity than sense, hoping to try to do in this series of talks.
There are, in the first place, various things about our present circumstances, and I don't
just mean this house alone.
And those which are possibly likely to prevail for many years persuade me that it would be
a mistake to begin with a primarily historical and critical approach to the rule of St Benedict.
For although historical and critical matters cannot fail to be of some real interest to
those who either are already professed to the rule, or hope to be so, these people inevitably
have always, in practice, to do what all those in the past who have adopted the rules of
whereby have always done, namely to live by what I may call some reading of the rule,
reading in inverted commas.
By which I mean, of course, that they cannot ask themselves first and foremost what the
rule may have meant to those who first lived it, or others who've lived it in previous
times would rather discover what it means for them now.
Any other attitude would put them, I think, outside the ambit of the rule as a committed
way of life.
It would remain for them merely something to which they look for inspiration from time
to time, which would really mean that they would be behaving rather like any readers,
any general readers, other than professed monks, quite often do.
In saying this, I make it clear that I couldn't agree more heartily than I do with Father
Terence Cardone of Assumption Abbey here in the United States, when he says that a monastic
rule means something quite different for those who do not regard it as their own rule of
life, however sympathetic they may feel towards it.
I regard myself then as speaking first of all to those for whom the rule already is,
or is probably about to become, a way of life, for there are some kinds of understanding
that I think only come with the living of the rule.
I may hope that what I have to say may be of some value and interest to those who wish
to listen in to it, but they must forgive me that it's not primarily for them that I'm
thinking, though of course I shall be interested in their questions and comments because very
often they help us to understand the text.
In other words, I intend to take the risk, for a considerable number of lectures, of
giving a personal reading of the rule, as it were, from the inside.
For although I've only been canonically been professed to the rule since 1982, it's been
my touchstone for 40 years of religious life this year, and in all massive choice and doubt,
I've always tried to do what the rule would have expected of me.
Just to note my awareness of the dangers of this enterprise, I'd like to quote some sensible
words from my old master, Sir Richard Southern, in his Little Penguin series volume on the
Church in the Middle Ages, where he says,
The rule leaves plenty of room for development and for improvisation.
Of course, our own life here has come out of the leases and illustrations of this.
It would be hard to tell, simply from reading it, whether it was intended mainly for a society
of scholars or labourers, of noblemen or peasants, for a richly endowed community supporting
an army of craftsmen and artists, or for a poor house scratching a living from an infertile
All are possible, and all, in due course, claim to be expressions of the original idea.
This is, I think, so obviously true for anyone of experience, that I must simply say that
where there are options of this kind, I shall endeavour to take those suggested by our commodities
constitutions, if they happen to provide, which they don't always do, so clear a directive.
Those constitutions themselves, of course, providing in many matters one possible reading
of the rule.
In fact, I seem to remember, if Father Bruner can correct me if my memory has failed me,
that before the present revision of our constitutions, quite near the beginning, there was a sentence
which said that nobody should say that this was not a legitimate interpretation of the
rule, the way we lived as semi-homies.
I think it was very...
That's what it was.
That was in that...
Was that a draft constitution?
Yes, exactly.
I mean, I think we can say that our way of living is a possible reading of the rule.
It's only one of many possible ones which have been adopted, and in fact we'll probably
look at some of the possible ones after Christmas, when we've got to know the text itself.
Before we embark, as it were, on the naked text, which is what I hope everyone will
make of their concern to know thoroughly, while we're doing all this, there are a couple
of somewhat technical, historical things for which I should like to say something
to prevent their getting too much in the way as we go along.
First, what should we have in mind when we refer to the text we are about to study as
a rule?
In what is inevitably, like all composite volumes, a bit of a mixed bag, this volume,
R.B. 1980, has, I think, one or two rather good pages on this subject, pages 144 to 47,
if you want to note them, which, with their notes, will provide sufficient guidance for
those who would want to go further.
It's evident that in the centuries over which this brief 6th century document came to be
taken as a formula for a way of life, to which people committed themselves by vow, it is
acquired, in the eyes of the Church, a canonical status, although it contains a great number
of things about which nobody could possibly legislate, and even a fair number of directives
to which very few people have ever been called to be obedient, even in quite remote times.
Indeed, even in the final chapter, chapter 73 of the text itself, it explicitly pointed
out that there are other writings beyond itself as being appropriate to those who wish to
take monastic life really seriously, and it calls itself a little rule for beginners.
Thus, distinctive though it may be, it's within this wider tradition of monastic theory and
practice that Benedict's rule book properly belongs.
It is, in fact, meant as an encouraging gateway into that tradition.
Apart from a broad awareness of which it cannot possibly be understood, in fact, as I'm going
to say, I think, a couple of lectures ahead, the one place where the text of the rule itself
refers to itself as holy, it's quite clear that Benedict is thinking of the entire tradition
of monastic life.
And I think, certainly, this is what we have to bear in mind all the time we're reading
it, and in particular, also, apart from the emphasis on the primacy of the scriptures
of the Old and New Testament, for, as the final chapter says, what page or what passage of
the books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest guides of human life?
Now, for that word, which is translated by R.B. in 1980 as guide, or by Abba Justin McCann
as rule, the Latin word has the word norma, or norm.
There's no doubt that this language inserts Benedict's book not so much in documents of
law as into that tradition of wise teaching about living, which brings us out of the scriptures
and passes on in an often specialized form through the Christian spiritual masters.
Its concern is not so much with what one must do, though that may at times be being said,
as by what it's spiritually wise and good to do.
In this connection, R.B. in 1980 makes the important point, I think, that one aspect
of this kind of teaching is that it must be taught or inculcated without the expectation
of immediate comprehension.
Unlike more speculative knowledge, practical wisdom is essentially related to experience.
Practice is essential to the assimilation of spiritual wisdom.
Is that worth repeating?
Perhaps it is.
This commentary is saying that unlike more speculative knowledge, practical wisdom is
essentially related to experience.
It must be taught or inculcated without the expectation of immediate comprehension.
I see Therese sitting over there and I imagine that when you're teaching pottery or any other
kind of thing to do with your hands, you first of all have to be told to do certain things
without knowing fully why it is.
It's only very slowly that you get the feel for the way to do the thing and then you know
that you've been taught the best way, if indeed you have.
And this is really the sort of thing that's being said by the rule in this tradition.
In other words, Benedict's book is concerned with living a life.
A small additional point, which is not made by R.B. in 1980, is that the early manuscript
from Saint-Gal, which is the one I have here, which most scholars regard as giving us the
oldest reliable manuscript of what Benedict probably wrote, inserts immediately after
the prologue a title which may not be as old as the rule, which says, here begins the text
of the rule.
It's called a rule because it guides the way those who obey it live.
This is again a notion which is very close to the idea of a norm, if you like, rather
than a law.
Like a ruler, which helps you to keep your lines straight, which was indeed the ordinary
classical meaning of the Latin word regular.
The ruler, as an instrument, doesn't determine the design that gets put on paper or exactly
even eventually what is the building that comes out.
But it helps translate into accurate and communicable terms the dynamic shape that was first in
the mind.
I hope this clears the air a little for the kind of things we're about to do.
We're going to try to envisage it this way as continuously indirective.
My second glance at history can, for the present, be relatively rapid.
When I was younger, everyone who was attracted to the rules of Benedict was likely to be
captured by its apparently unique and special character.
Little did I guess that when I was still at school, a French monk, Dom GĂ©nestu, of the
great French Abbey of Solene in Brittany, was making discoveries about the texts of
the rule which were to come as a shock, even to those who were not monks or professed to
the rule.
It was to take a long time to assimilate what these discoveries amounted to, and I can very
well remember my friends at the Abbey of Chimay in Belgium saying, just to think we had to
have a layman.
It was actually Monsieur Massai from Brussels who came out to talk to us about the texts
of the rule.
Of course, they didn't know as much about it as he did, and other scholars who had studied
this thing.
A short and very lucid account of all this has been given by one of the most resistant
of English scholars, Professor Owen Chadwick, in his Thomas Werner Moore lecture given in
Washington in 1980.
It's a little book which I have had a copy of, put in the library, at least I haven't
seen it there, but I know I gave it to Adam to be catalogued.
It is very useful, short.
If you want to read a very short thing, it's only a few pages, with very good pictures
in it too, then read Owen Chadwick's little lecture on the Benedictine idea.
As Owen Chadwick says there, almost everyone has now agreed that a document which I've
never heard it claimed that anyone actually lived by, called the Rule of the Master, is
the primary source of the text of Benedict.
Father de Bouguere goes as near as possible to claim that it was actually lived by, but
doesn't actually quite make that last step in his reduction to his own edition of this
Rule of the Master, where he says it isn't really possible it couldn't have been lived
I have the gravest doubts whether anybody would have stood for more than that at all
This is what, in fact, the RB 1980 refers to as a working hypothesis, because it's not
impossible to challenge it at various points, but it does look as though it's fairly established
Yet in the long run, the substantial result of it all has been to enhance Benedict's
As Richard Southern says in the Little Penguin book I've already mentioned, a comparison
of the two documents leaves an unexpected impression on the reader's mind.
Benedict, the most influential guide to the spiritual life in Western history, appears
as an uncomplicated and self-effacing man who was content to take nearly all his doctrine
from the Rule of his predecessor.
Yet with a few changes, omissions and additions, he changed the whole character of his source.
He added strength where it was weak, tenderness where it was strong, and terse and simplicity
where it was diffuse and confusing.
I say as much as this, and no more at this point, to enable me to refer to the Rule of
the Master on those occasions when I think it useful.
But to leave it to those who are curious about these things to test the matter for themselves.
It's very instructive.
I find it very fascinating all the time, trying to look where it started and how strange it
What we're going to be studying here then, in these talks before Christmas, is the Rule
as we have it.
It's something I suppose we always have to remember about the Gospels, in fact the canonical
Gospels are not what the scholars discuss, but the text as we have it.
Although I cannot imagine that for anyone living the life of the Rules, Benedict's prologue
would ever cease to be a constant point of reference, the fact that towards its end it
foresees the possibility that someone might be tempted to run away from the kind of life
it envisages, is an invitation to look at that and the kind of person to whom it is
speaking in its opening phrases.
For this is the context in which the prologue must be situated at all times, however different
those times and the people they produce may be.
There are, of course, in the Rule, three chapters which tell us in relation to two special cases
rather explicitly what kind of people we should expect to find in the monastery.
I'm naturally thinking of Chapter 2, on what kind of man the abbot ought to be, with its
necessary appendix from Chapter 64, on how to choose an abbot, and of Chapter 31, on
what kind of man the cellarer ought to be.
What is there said about these two officials of the house could and should be amplified
from other places, particularly in the case of the abbot, as for instance Chapter 27 on
these communicated.
But there is in fact no general sketch in any one place of what kind of man an ordinary
monk should be, though there is naturally Chapter 1, which discusses briefly the kinds
of people who we happen to find claiming to be monks.
It is, I believe, by reading and above all living the life of the Rule as a whole, that
we begin to form an impression of what kind of a man we ought reasonably to expect a
monk to be, and to develop our sense for this when we meet one.
There's one clear and fundamental indication, which ought never to be forgotten, in Chapter
58, on the procedure of receiving brothers, beginning, as it does, with the admonition
that entry ought not to be made easy.
This chapter insists on the necessary testing of spirits to see whether they come from God.
And the first mark of the knowledge should be that he truly seeks God.
It may be thought that this is not invariably an easy thing to discern, unless we can come
at what is involved in some less frantical way.
In this connection, I kind of forget two comments made by Benedictine in relatively
recent times, which seem to me to be helpful.
In the first place, there is the remark of the famous abbess Laurentia of Stambergabing,
reporting the volume dedicated to her memory and called, In a Great Tradition.
There she is credited with saying, what we want to know is, do they want to play in God?
That's what I'd written when I was writing this, and unfortunately, Thomas Duchamp, I
hope will be joining us by the end of this month here, was kind enough to bring me the
Valiermo copy of this book.
I hadn't seen it for 30 years, and I've got the actual story, a delightful little sketch
of the abbess.
It's a creature that I'm extremely fond of, although I gave him a treat some years ago
while I was living in Normand.
I'm very fond of all.
And this is an account of how one of the nuns of the abbey came to the abbess telling her
about an interview with some rather grave gentleman, the parlour, who'd said to her at one point,
oh, so you have a devotion to God the Father.
Devotion, cried the abbess, and the rise and crescendo, devotion?
Then dropping to an impressive monotone, she said slowly, did you tell him that you wanted
just playing God?
This is a good old Darntworth English way of speaking, and I think it's by no means empty.
Paraphrased, I suppose it means that the sum total of various things we find being said,
both in the prologue and in the rest of the room, amounts to asking, have they got some
idea about God, or monastic life, which they so much prefer to what the monastery offers
them, they cannot really find the mystery of God there.
I think it's something like that.
It's so easy to be in love with some picture, rather than the thing itself, which is really
the forming thing, and just playing God, and one never knows what that's going to be.
And secondly, I remember from a slightly earlier time, Don John Chap, an abbot of Downside
at one time, who died in the early 1930s, describing a sense of monastic vocation as
being something rather like a vague desire to serve God, and not knowing exactly how
to say it about it.
This strikes me as being very true to that mystery of God experienced in living Christian
faith, to which the prologue introduces us, and to which the rest of the rule often brings
us back.
Thus, it is that the first word of the prologue, listen, which rightly attracts the attention
of every commentator, this word listen is explicitly addressed to the ear of the heart.
St Benedict's way, which never underestimates the human faculties, addresses itself to something
the heart knows, rather than what the mind sees.
And one of the things the heart knows, when it truly seeks God, is that strange experience
of having fallen away from God, which responds to what has always seemed to me to be the
basic overarching image of the prologue.
If you want a picture of it, it's that of a return journey to God.
It's a big movement back to God.
I say return, not only because this is the word Benedict himself uses in connection with
what he calls the labour of obedience, which is the way we return to God, but because I
think R.B. in 1980 is right to refer to the link between this phrase and the theology
of St. Paul's letter to Rome, chapter 5, verse 19, just to remind you what this verse says.
As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many were
made righteous.
This, of course, is a verse primarily about the theology of original sin.
In other words, to use the wise distinction of my old teacher, Fr. Victor White, all of
us, as human beings, are involved in the sin situation in two slightly different ways.
We're involved in it as something from which we suffer, both externally and internally,
arising from something we have not done, but have simply come into by the mere fact of
being human.
And we've involved ourselves in sin to a greater or lesser degree through things we
have personally done, which were against the plan of God.
Thus, from the one condition or the other, the person being addressed in the rule is,
in the Christian understanding of things, being called to return to God.
And we should note that in this sense, both at the beginning and a lot of the way through
the prologue, what is being spoken of is the common Christian calling.
And the word monastery is for the first time explicitly used in the very last sentence
of the prologue, number 50.
Though it is, of course, implied in the notion of establishing a school of the Lord's service,
which is the subject of the final paragraph.
Both words derive from the text of the Rule of the Master, though with an important modification
of atmosphere by Benedict, of which more in its place.
For the present, let us return to the first four sentences of the prologue, which are Benedict's
You can see by comparing the two texts, Benedict wrote special introductory phrases to these.
And they give a very clear directive sense to the long succeeding passages, which have
been taken substantially from Benedict's source.
In addition to the ideas of listening and return, these first four sentences tell us
something about the words of the kindly or loving Father of the opening phrase, which
give both the prologue and the text of the Rule, as a whole, its distinctively Christian
For he tells us that these words are addressed to anyone who, to follow R.B.
in 1980, and most translations, is ready to give up their own will to fight for or
serve the true King, Christ the Lord.
But of course, as everyone agrees, the Latin words mean something a little subtler than
the translation suggests.
They mean that I give up the individual desires, wishes, or whims that I would otherwise choose,
proprius voluntatibus, if I were not trying to give to live as a son or daughter of God.
Following that path of obedience to the Father, which is the feature of the life of the Son
of God himself.
Even when it comes to the suffering of Christ, which links the thought of these opening phrases
with the last sentence of the prologue.
In Benedict's mind, as we find as we go along the Rule, it's not so much an abstract ideal,
which is pursued in the monastery, as I think is often the case when reading John Cassian,
but it is Christ whom we're meeting at every point of challenge.
And as we begin to read the verses from scripture, which describe us as being called from sleep
and opening our eyes to the light of God, we're listening not to the words of some earthly
spiritual master, but to the words of Christ himself, as already speaking in and through
the Old Testament scriptures.
To no one who reads even a little of the writings of the Father of the Church, will this idea
seem strange.
It goes back, of course, to the very earliest Christian centuries, and is often clearly
enough written into the New Testament itself.
So that it is in this process of listening and giving up our simply private wishes, we
enter into a dialogue with Christ our Lord himself, who shows himself to us, even before
we call upon him, in that urgent prayer, which is the fourth thing in which the opening sentences
speak, as being the prelude to every good thing we wish to do.
Now our guidance as to what these things are is, we are told, the Gospel, Deucartum Evangelium,
whose teaching we are to embrace, not as something we know about theoretically, but in faith
and good works.
It is, in other words, the Gospel translated into life.
Not of course without temptation to live otherwise, the very first suggestions of which are to
be dashed against the rock of Christ, before they have time to grow into something that
will take us over.
God is patient with us, the only time it's used in connection with God and the rule,
God is patient with us through all these struggles, as we ourselves learn to be patient in another
Patience, of course, means the one who suffers something, endures something, or goes through
Until a transformation begins to take place, which will give life quite a new dimension
of spontaneous joy, there's a very strong note of joy in the ultimate perspective of
the rule.
This thought naturally leads us explicitly into the final section of the prologue.
I haven't attempted, for the size of these lectures, simply to go through the scripture
section, but you can look at it very carefully yourself, it's very telling and very memorable.
Perhaps you might say we're going to go from here now, from 39 to 50, where we are told
we must prepare our hearts and our bodies for the battle of holy obedience to the commands
of God.
If anyone feels a little troubled that I didn't pause to dwell on the subject of the weapons
of obedience, whatever they may be, mentioned in the first four sentences, I hope they will
see this was not an evasion of a difficult subject.
For even when we reach this final section of the prologue, our attention is consistently
drawn, as I have tried to draw it, to the theoretical root of the value of obedience.
I've really tried to suggest how the notion of renouncing our own wishes, precisely as
our own, links us especially through prayer to the dispositions of Christ our Lord in
both his life and his sufferings, and this determines, as it were, the overall development
of our calling in a most radical way.
And here at the end we're reminded of the fact that the true battle of or for obedience
is something that we owe first and foremost to God.
It's very important to get that clear, I think.
Indeed it is the very expression of our response to the Gospel.
In a later talk we shall have to think a little more closely about the, in our days, somewhat
vexed question of obedience as it is practiced in Benedict's monastery, but the prologue
holds us almost at the end of the larger context in which all genuine monastic virtue is practiced.
Benedict defaces himself at the voice of God, and there's none of that emphasis on the
writer as a master which characterizes his source.
Indeed, in one of the few references to the Latin word for master or teacher, which Benedict
has retained from his source, the teacher is actually experience.
And I think we may believe that it was precisely experience which led Benedict so completely
to transform this final section of his source, where he retains the notion of the monastery
as a school.
The exact meaning of the word school here in the Rule has been a good deal discussed
in recent years, and with special fullness by Father de Volgaway in his so-called Spiritual
Commentary on the Rule.
A very tedious book to read, I'm afraid.
I hope it will not seem ungenerous if I say that while a lot of the technical information
which has been assembled is of real interest, especially to the historian, it doesn't seem
to me greatly to change what monks in practice have always thought, in however inarticulate
a manner.
It would seem that the word school, at the time that Benedict was writing, could mean
both a place where something is learned, and a place where people who already have some
training exercise that skill together, whether, as we might say nowadays, it be painting, or
riding, or ballet, or what you will.
What this particular view of the word does is to shift the sense that the place Benedict
intends to set up from that of a setting for the mere giving and receiving of instruction,
education in spiritual things, to a place where everyone, without exception, is always
in a very real way learning, because it's in fact a way of life.
I particularly liked my comparison with the school of ballet when it came to me, not just
because it's an art in which I personally have a special interest, indeed I have, but
because, as we've seen and will see, the rule in the prologue, and in other places, insists
on the way of life intensely, reaching right down to the body, we prepare ourselves and
our bodies, and that's to recite to the lad of humility when we come to chapter 7.
It's right through into the body.
A skilled dancer, like Muriel, still needs to exercise his body in late middle age.
As Dunbar-I-Rombier, a friend of my brother, continued to do, even in her seventies.
That it may continue to be penetrated with the intelligence or wisdom which is as much
the making of a fine dancer as the mere physical training is.
It would certainly be equally wrong to limit the influence of monastic life to any one
sphere of human existence.
It's meant to affect life as a whole.
Yet here, Benedict intrudes with a but, which is evidently as important for his view of
monastic life as it also is in sound physical training.
Nothing is to be harsh, nothing burdensome.
There is, in other words, to be no over-strain.
It's one of the things, of course, fine athletes and dancers also have to learn to do, not to
They have to learn to train, and then it becomes easier, but it has to be done with a kind
of restrained discipline.
If there is to be a certain strictness of discipline, it is to be imposed, it seems,
for the good of all concerned, as R.B. 1980 rather cleverly and ingeniously translates,
where just as we can't simply have just for a good reason, either would do, really, possibly.
It's dictata ratione.
In other words, these things are never there for themselves.
Such restrictions that there are, are there either to amend faults or to safeguard love.
In other words, they are either corrective or protective according to the appropriate
We should certainly not underestimate the importance of either of these factors in
the development of a spiritual art any more than in the development of a primarily physical
For they evidently ought to interpenetrate.
Even the leading of the monastic life will be experienced differently to the extent which
is penetrated by a living spirit of faith.
And this is doubtless why Benedict mentions both these factors when he promises us that
as we make progress in both the one and the other, both in faith and in works, we shall
in fact begin to run along the way that God commands, with hearts overflowing with the
inexpressible delight of love.
As R.B. 1980 translates him.
This thought naturally turns us once again to the theological root of the life of obedience.
And his final sentence, taken from his source, now reminds us that obedience is always and
ultimately, sometimes immediately, God himself.
For it is from the training of God and his teaching that we are never to depart, even
though the faithful doing of his will involve an exquisite patience that will make us sharers
in the sufferings of Christ, so that we may also deserve to share in his kingdom.
Here then, the prologue prepares us for the description of a Christian way of life lived
in a particular setting which is designed to be favourable to that life.
Although it doesn't claim to be the only form that that life might take.
And so perhaps we should try to keep an open mind about what sort of a place Benedict's
Monastery is supposed to be, and what kind of people live there, until we see what he
has to say about this.
The beginning, but only the beginning of that, will be the subject of our next talk.
I hope I've gone much too fast.
Now I can pause a bit, and you can ask me anything you want, for a few minutes anyway.
I'd like to kind of work something through in my own mind about the rule.
The rule is a way of life.
We speak of Christ as the way.
There are obvious differences there, but I'm wondering, this actual rule has the form of
power, that in living this rule, in a sense the rule becomes embodied in us and we're
I still don't exactly know how to say that.
Well, I think, Bill, I can see the point you're reaching for, and I think Benedict
explicitly is doing this all through the world.
It has become clear as we go along.
You see, in the present crisis, not only is it explicitly embodied in the whole construction
of your programme, but also you've revealed this in all kinds of ways.
He's there in the city, he's there in the dance, he's there when we're meeting each
other and so on.
So, in fact, really, the rule is formative in the sense which we're there to disunite
in the monastery.
If you don't do that, of course it won't work.
You see what I mean?
It must be there.
I mean, that's why the thing about reading the Gospel is there in the programme.
It's really why it's the voice of Christ we're hearing through Scripture and speaking
to us all the time.
I think that when we get, I'm afraid even next time we're not going to get very far
with the complete formulation of this, that when we come to, for instance, considering
the face of holy reading, let's say the reading now, and the office itself, it's because
we're really attending to this, if we're listening to this, that we're listening
at the first place.
If we're going to do this and we're going to do it too, in faith, that's the context
of it.
You have to do it in faith.
Then, therefore, this form is entirely Christian in mind.
So what I'm trying to suggest is that, as far as I can see, what Mimmi thinks she's
doing is giving us a norm by which we can live the life of a Protestant.
Then there's the only one you might say, but it's one norm by which you could really
live a full Christian life, in a given sense.
So the rule for you again, as you were saying in the beginning, is not this little book
of inspirational writings, but it actually is a life, it's a way.
Oh yes.
I'm quite sure that if you don't get that, it must be going on.
In other words, you could observe all the individual instructions, but if you don't
live the life, then of course you won't live anything.
You really won't live much.
And I think it's most recognisable, and I feel very privileged, because I don't want
to be oppressing monks in my time.
And I think that one of the things the rule does, honestly, is give open fidelity.
I often, close enough, the first thing that comes to mind is a man who was by no means
an intellectual.
A monk with a celibate congregation.
And he shouldn't have.
He's long since been shunned.
Who I can see, as I so often saw him when I arrived at the monastery to make my achievements.
And this old man, who was quite a bit of a skilled businessman and so on,
he was doing a lot of simple jobs and so on.
But I was also, by the kind of things that I had never seen, I was dying.
And I went into a meeting, I was chairing the information centre, got the information
again, got up and out, and then he was out.
And, oh God, I was absolutely, we talked about Queen Victoria, who lived, had a house,
not far away from the other one.
And all kinds of other things and so on.
He was very, very open, very gentle, very childlike.
But not childish at all.
Very good sense of humour, in this last ten years of his life.
And that he has simply, there's a certain, even gentle correctness.
I think it only comes from really listening to what's going on all the time.
I think it can take that.
So if you were to define the practice that Benedict is speaking about,
in concrete terms of making the role whole,
is it a question then of the practice that's done through listening
and then the acting upon what one has heard
and putting it into practice, or just getting the light and seeing it develop?
I think that's quite right.
I think one should try not...