Although it is nearly 1,500 years old, The Rule of St. Benedict remains one of the most influential texts in the Western monastic movement. It offers a unique insight into the early development of Christian monasticism as monks secluded themselves from the world to fulfil religious vows. For believers, it continues to offer guidance about incorporating meditation and prayer into devotions, the quiet times of reflection when the focus is on God, through prayer or Bible study.
The young Benedict left his studies in Rome and withdrew from society to embrace a life of quiet solitude, devoted fully to religious activities such as prayer, study, and meditation. It was not long, however, before like-minded individuals began looking to him for guidance, and Benedict played a role in founding several monastic communities. After guiding these monasteries for decades, Benedict used all his experience to produce his Rule, a brief guidebook for monastic living in a communal setting.
I learned a few new terms, such as "oblate": a person who lives a monastic type of life, normally affiliated with a monastic order, but not within a monastery. I learned extremely simple basics about Benedict, his life, and the orders he founded and has influenced. The reader has a smooth and pleasant voice, if a tiny shade on the glitzy and punchy and modernistic side for this content. In all this time spent, there could have been so much more useful content. There is zero about what the actual life practices were (and are), other than, obviously prayer, and Benedict's promotion of some regular physical labor for the monk, and some balance of activities between prayer, meditation and more active works in a clear daily structure. There was a passing mention of the abbot's (monastic overseer's) duties as parallel to Jesus's -- a precursor to fiduciary duties, I observe (with no help from the author by way of any real analysis). Those are my more nice things to say. But this is grinding with so much low-information repetition. Not terribly unpleasant for my summer's evening walk, given the nice narration voice, but no way (IMO) worth my 5 bucks. Is it laziness? Contempt for the reader? Why not do a good when job when the opportunity is at hand? Why pass this off on me?
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