St Benedict lived from 480 A.D. to 547 A.D. He founded the first monestary in Monte Casino. He developed a detailed plan for monastic communities, called The Rule of St. Benedict. The rules for the monestary were completely derived from the bible. “For what page or word of the Bible is not a perfect rule for temperal life? What book of the Fathers does not proclaim that be a straight path we shall find God?” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 56) He believed that the people that follow God and wish to enter into His kingdom after death must be humble in order to be raised in honor and allowed into heaven.
“Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” St. Benedict forms twelve steps of humilty, where after having climbed the last step, you will be closer to God. After being humbled, you will be given the gift of heaven, where there will no longer be evil and where there is a universal understanding of the plight of man.
“When a monk has climbed all twelve steps, he will find that perfect love of God which casts out fear, by means of which everything he had observed anxiously before will now appear simple and natural.”
St. Benedict believes that to reach God we must follow his scripture. From the Bible, he knows that by doing this he will be brought to heaven. “Readily accept and faithfully follow the advice of a loving Father, so that through out labour of obedience you may return to Him” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 47) St. Benedict strongly believes in obedience to God. This is the only way to His Kingdom. By faithfully following God, we will be blessed with the His grace. “Let us encompass ourselves with faith and the practice of good works, and guided by the Gospel, tread the path he has cleared for us. Thus may we deserve to see Him, who has called us into His Kingdom” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 48). Only those putting God first and acting in good conduct will be allowed into heaven. “If we wish to be sheltered in this Kingdom, it can be reached only through our good conduct” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 48). Practice of these rules and conditions are very important into the entrance of heaven. You must believe in them and follow them in order to be allowed into heaven. “We must prepare ourselves, in body and soul, to fight under the commandments of holy obedience” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 48). The monestary is there to help the monks follow the twelve steps of humility, to be obedient and to do good work. “Remaining in the monestary until death, we patiently share in Christ’s passion, so we may eventually enter into the Kingdom of God” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 48).
In The Rule of St. Benedict, St Benedict describes twelve steps to reaching humility. They are each derived and proved using holy scripture. “Therefore, brothers, if we wish to reach the highest peak of humility and soon arrive at the heavenly heights, we must, by our good deeds, set up a ladder…that we go up by humbling ourselves and down by praising ourselves” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 52). “The first step of humility is taken when a man obeys all of God’s commandments” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 52). Obedience is central to St. Benedict’s ideas. The second step of the ladder is following the wishes of the Lord, not of thyself. The passage that he uses to support his argument is taken from the Bible; “I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (Jn. 6:38, cited in The Rule of St. Benedict, 53). The third step of humility is obediance towards superiors in the imitation of God. For example, Abba. The fourth step is toleration. “Only he who perseveres to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22, cited in The Rule of St.Benedict,53). The fifth rung of the ladder is confession. “Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him” (Ps. 37:5, cited in The Rule of St. Benedict, 53) The sixth step is confessing that he is an inferior person, and the seventh step is believing it. The eigth step is similar to the third. It involves obediance to the monestary and the elders within it. “The ninth step of humility is achieved when a monk, practising silence, only speaks when asked a question, for, ‘In many words you shall not avoid sin’ (Prov. 10:19)” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 54). The tenth step is restraint from laughter. When a monk is to speak, the eleventh step says to only speak gently, simply and rationally. The twelth step is being humble in his heart and appearance. “He must think of his sins, head down, eyes on the ground and imagine he is on trial before God” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 54) These twelve steps are crucial to the path to God.
When one is humbled, everything will seem simple and natural. When one is close to God, and on their way to heaven they will see the plight of man. One’s vision of the world is blurred when corrupted by earthly things. We can not see this while we are in the middle of it. It is not until a monk is in the monestary with only what he needs, is he able to devote himself to God. When a monk is humble he will see why this is true because he will be free of material things.
After reaching all twelve steps of humility, the monk will no longer be afraid of god, but will love him because he will be forgiven.
“He [monk] will no longer act out of the fear of Hell, but for the love of Christ, out of good habits and with a pleasure derived of virtue. The Lord, through the Holy Spirit, will show this to His servant, cleansed of sin and vice” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 54).
If a monk is able to reach humility throught obedience to the twelve steps, he will be exalted and able to pass into heaven. He will be freed of sin and will hold the knowledge of the plight of man. “Whoever you are, if you wish to follow the path to God, make use of this little Rule for beginners. Thus at length you will come to heights of doctrine and virtue under God’s guidence” (The Rule of St. Benedict, 56).
St. Benedict, “The Rule of St. Benedict,” Foundation Year Handbook, (Halifax: University of King’s College, 2000-01).
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