The Order of Saint Benedict

The Rule of Benedict. English.


Readings for March 24-31, July 24-31 and November 23-30
(Chapters 44 - 49)


Chapter 44: How the Excommunicated Are to Make Satisfaction

Mar. 24 - July 24 - Nov. 23

One who for serious faults is excommunicated
from oratory and table
shall make satisfaction as follows.
At the hour when the celebration of the Work of God is concluded
in the oratory,
let her lie prostrate before the door of the oratory,
saying nothing, but only lying prone with her face to the ground
at the feet of all as they come out of the oratory.
And let her continue to do this
until the Abbess judges that satisfaction has been made.
Then, when she has come at the Abbess's bidding,
let her cast herself first at the Abbess's feet
and then at the feet of all,
that they may pray for her.

And next, if the Abbess so orders,
let her be received into the choir,
to the place which the Abbess appoints,
but with the provision that she shall not presume
to intone Psalm or lesson or anything else in the oratory
without a further order from the Abbess.

Moreover, at every Hour,
when the Work of God is ended,
let her cast herself on the ground in the place where she stands.
And let her continue to satisfy in this way
until the Abbess again orders her finally to cease
from this satisfaction.

But those who for slight faults are excommunicated
only from table
shall make satisfaction in the oratory,
and continue in it till an order from the Abbess,
until she blesses them and says, "It is enough."

Chapter 45: On Those Who Make Mistakes in the Oratory

Mar. 25 - July 25 - Nov. 24

When anyone has made a mistake
while reciting a Psalm, a responsory,
an antiphon or a lesson,
if he does not humble himself there before all
by making a satisfaction,
let him undergo a greater punishment
because he would not correct by humility
what he did wrong through carelessness.

But boys for such faults shall be whipped.

Chapter 46: On Those Who Fail in Any Other Matters

Mar. 26 - July 26 - Nov. 25

When anyone is engaged in any sort of work,
whether in the kitchen, in the cellar, in a shop,
in the bakery, in the garden, while working at some craft,
or in any other place,
and she commits some fault,
or breaks something, or loses something,
or transgresses in any other way whatsoever,
if she does not come immediately
before the Abbess and the community
of her own accord
to make satisfaction and confess her fault,
then when it becomes known through another,
let her be subjected to a more severe correction.

But if the sin-sickness of the soul is a hidden one,
let her reveal it only to the Abbess or to a spiritual mother,
who knows how to cure her own and others' wounds
without exposing them and making them public.

Chapter 47: On Giving the Signal for the Time of the Work of God

Mar. 27 - July 27 - Nov. 26

The indicating of the hour for the Work of God
by day and by night
shall devolve upon the Abbot
either to give the signal himself
or to assign this duty to such a careful brother
that everything will take place at the proper hours.

Let the Psalms and the antiphons be intoned
by those who are appointed for it,
in their order after the Abbot.
And no one shall presume to sing or read
unless he can fulfill that office
in such a way as to edify the hearers.
Let this function be performed
with humility, gravity and reverence,
and by him whom the Abbot has appointed.

Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

Mar. 28 - July 28 - Nov. 27

Idleness is the enemy of the soul.
Therefore the sisters should be occupied
at certain times in manual labor,
and again at fixed hours in sacred reading.
To that end
we think that the times for each may be prescribed as follows.

From Easter until the Calends of October,
when they come out from Prime in the morning
let them labor at whatever is necessary
until about the fourth hour,
and from the fourth hour until about the sixth
let them apply themselves to reading.
After the sixth hour,
having left the table,
let them rest on their beds in perfect silence;
or if anyone may perhaps want to read,
let her read to herself
in such a way as not to disturb anyone else.
Let None be said rather early,
at the middle of the eighth hour,
and let them again do what work has to be done until Vespers.

And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monastics
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted.

Mar. 29 - July 29 - Nov. 28

From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
let them apply themselves to reading
up to the end of the second hour.

At the second hour let Terce be said,
and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
At the first signal for the Hour of None
let everyone break off from her work,
and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
After the meal
let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.

On the days of Lent,
from morning until the end of the third hour
let them apply themselves to their reading,
and from then until the end of the tenth hour
let them do the work assigned them.
And in these days of Lent
they shall each receive a book from the library,
which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.

But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
to go about the monastery
at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
and see that there be no lazy sister
who spends her time in idleness or gossip
and does not apply herself to the reading,
so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
but also distracts others.
If such a one be found (which God forbid),
let her be corrected once and a second time;
if she does not amend,
let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
in such a way that the rest may take warning.

Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
at inappropriate times.

Mar. 30 - July 30 - Nov. 29

On Sundays, let all occupy themselves in reading,
except those who have been appointed to various duties.
But if anyone should be so negligent and shiftless
that she will not or cannot study or read,
let her be given some work to do
so that she will not be idle.

Weak or sickly sisters should be assigned a task or craft
of such a nature as to keep them from idleness
and at the same time not to overburden them or drive them away
with excessive toil.
Their weakness must be taken into consideration by the Abbess.

Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent

Mar. 31 - July 31 - Nov. 30

Although the life of a monk
ought to have about it at all times
the character of a Lenten observance,
yet since few have the virtue for that,
we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
the brethren keep their lives most pure
and at the same time wash away during these holy days
all the negligences of other times.
And this will be worthily done
if we restrain ourselves from all vices
and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
"with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.
From his body, that is
he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
and with the joy of spiritual desire
he may look forward to holy Easter.

Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
what it is that he wants to offer,
and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
and will merit no reward.
Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.


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Selections above from Saint Benedict's Rule for Monasteries, translated from the Latin by Leonard J. Doyle OblSB, of Saint John's Abbey, (© Copyright 1948, 2001, by the Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, MN 56321). Adapted for use here with the division into sense lines of the first edition that was republished in 2001 to mark the 75th anniversary of Liturgical Press. Doyle's translation is available in both hardcover and paperback editions.

Benedict's Rule: A Translation and Commentary by Terrence G. Kardong, O.S.B. is the first line-by-line exegesis of the entire Rule of Benedict written originally in English. This full commentary -- predominately literary and historical criticism -- is based on and includes a Latin text of Regula Benedicti (Liturgical Press). Hardcover, 664 pp., 6 x 9, ISBN 0-8146-2325-5, $59.95.

RB 1980 in Latin and English with Notes is a modern, scholarly translation ed. by Timothy Fry, OSB (Liturgical Press, 1981), 672 p., $39.95. The translation by itself is also available in paperback, $2.95.


Rev. 6 May 2006 / © Copyright 1995-2009 by OSB, MN 56321-2015 / archive.osb.org/rb/text/rbemjo3.html