…observing God’s teaching in the monastery, faithfully.
– RB Prologue, 50
It is only this that produces,
Hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.
– RB Prologue, 49
Benedict wrote his Rule for people who desired to be bound to Christ. He knew that most people in the church do not want this. He realized that people are fickle, that they want to pick and choose what appeals to them. But from the first days of Christianity there have been four non-negotiable components involved in genuinely loving God: theology, scripture, authority, and tradition. As Benedict began his Prologue with a call to love, so he closes it with a benediction upon love, along with a surety, that if his guidelines are followed that it promises…[h]earts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. But in order to achieve that it will require obedience, literally, …observing God’s teaching in the monastery, faithfully. In this one sentence Benedict recites this cornerstone of the church, that [t]hese remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the community of faith, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. (Acts 2:42). These four actions humanize:
observing – church teaching
god’s teaching – scripture
monastery – authority
faithfully – tradition
Leave one or more out, or leave off our obedience to it, and the church becomes less than human. Without each one holding their rightful place Benedict knew that humans are not genuinely loving (even though they may use the word), conversely they are: acting on their own whims, captive to their own thoughts, placing themselves as the authorities (in the place of God or priestly authority), and denying what had been observed by those who stood around the cross and who went to the empty tomb…unfaithful, respectively.
Thomas Merton wrote that, …[o]ur minds are like crows, picking up anything that sparkles. Benedict tells us that in order to be the church, that in order to find the love of God in a humanizing community, we need to leave behind all of the notions that we have warehoused over the course of our lives in our heads, and to simply follow his regulations.
The bad news is this cannot be done outside of a regulated, structured, humanized, loving commune, devoted to obedience.
The good news is…
…it can be done.
[R]un and do now what will profit us forever.
– RB, Prologue 44