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The Saints Praise the Rule of St. Benedict

The Rule of Saint Benedict has formed countless saints since it was written. Its effectiveness as a means to holiness is here attested to by various great saints of the Church. These excerpts have been taken from The Cross and Medal of Saint Benedict: A Mystical Sign of Divine Power.


Saint Gregory the Great

(From Book II of His Dialogues)

The man of God, Saint Benedict, shone in this world with a multitude of miracles and was no less radiant by virtue of his eloquence and wisdom. For he wrote a rule for monks distinguished by its discretion, and most lucid in its wording. If anyone wishes to know in more detail the life and habits of this saint, he is able to find them portrayed in his Holy Rule. For the holy man was utterly incapable of teaching anything which he himself did not first fulfill perfectly in his own manner of living.

Louis the Pious, Holy Roman Emperor

(From His Exhortation of Eigel, Abbot of Fulda)

The Rule of Saint Benedict is indeed the “narrow gate” which leads all those who follow it to God! For it will teach you everything you need to know of discretion, good measure, and charity.

Saint Peter Damian

(From His Opusculum XIII)

The Holy Rule of Saint Benedict is like a spacious and beautiful mansion! For it is capable of accommodating individuals of each and every type, and leading them to the perfection and summit of sanctity—both the young and the old, the strong and the weak, and the learned and the simple alike.

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

(From His Prayer to Saint Benedict)

O holy and blessed Benedict! You were enriched with such a vast treasury of celestial grace that it drew not only you to the very heights of glory, to eternal peace, and to the throne of heaven—but also led innumerable multitudes of other souls to the same blessedness. You drew them in by your admirable and noble manner of life; you inspired them with your persuasive encouragement; you instructed them with your wise teaching; and, finally, you astonished them with your countless miracles!

Flying to you, O Saint Benedict, I prostrate my weak and sorely troubled soul before you. To you I pour out my humble prayers. For by my vows and by my monastic habit, I have committed myself to the monastic life; yet I recognize that I very often stray far from the high ideals of this commitment!

Be with me, therefore, O Holy Father Benedict, as I beseech your help. You are the most illustrious general among the many leaders of the army of Christ, and I am sworn to you as my commander, though I am but an incompetent soldier. Raise me up when I fall, grant me victory, and finally lead me to the crown of triumph; so that, under your guidance, we may rejoice with you in the presence of our eternal King, who lives and reigns forever and ever! Amen.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

(From His Sermon on the Feast Day of Saint Benedict)

Today, we celebrate the feast day of our glorious master, Saint Benedict! His most sweet name is to be embraced and honored by you, brethren, with all joy; for he is our leader, our teacher, and our law-giver. I constantly delight in his memory, although I may scarcely dare to recall the name of our Blessed Father without feelings of my own inadequacy and unworthiness. Brothers, like you all, I am called to renunciation of the vanities of this passing world and to humble and obedient acceptance of monastic discipline. But, unlike you, I am called to share with Benedict the title and position of “Abbot.” He bore that title, and truly and worthily; whereas I am a mere shadow of what an abbot should be and what he actually was!

Saint Benedict was like a great tree of stupendous size and filled with a magnificent abundance of fruit—indeed, like the tree mentioned in the psalm, which is “planted by the flowing waters.”4 But where is it, you may ask, that waters typically flow? It is in the shaded depths of valleys, in between the mountain peaks. For we have all perceived that streams of water flow down the mountain slopes to form a river in the depth of a valley below. Thus it is that in the lowliness of humility, rather than on the peaks of pride, the crystalline rivers of grace flow most copiously. O, all you who wish to be faithful beasts in the service of the sweet yoke of Christ and to live as sheep in His flock, gather in this verdant valley of humility, where your teacher Saint Benedict once stood before you! For the peaks of the mountains of pride are barren, rocky and perilous, populated by deadly vipers, and devoid of pasture. But in the shaded glens of humility’s valley, there shall you find serene meadows and quiet waters aplenty. And there it was that Benedict was firmly planted—the noble tree, nourished by the waters of heavenly grace, who produced the wonderful fruit of innumerable saints throughout the ages.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Cross and Medal of Saint Benedict: A Mystical Sign of Divine Power by St. Gregory, St. Bernard, and others which is available from TAN Books

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