I have been really struck by the Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict:
Listen carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov 4:20). Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labour of obedience you may return to God from whom you have departed by the sloth of disobedience.
In essence Benedict is opening up the idea that Christianity is about a way of life. This is an important corrective to the reformation which puts the emphasis of belief on thinking. Benedict’s Rule is an attempt to help people grow a distinctive Christian faith which is less ‘What should I believe’ and more ‘How should I live’ which is a crucial question then and now. How do we LIVE the Christian life which is about prayerful action.
The opening sentence of Benedict’s Prologue make this very simple, that involves four elements:
1. Listen – to the masters instructions who calls us daughter and sons.
2. Receive – the grace of receiving the love of God that brings health and transends defensiveness and encourages honest loving vulnerability.
3. Labour – put what you have heard and received from God into practice in the way you live. Prayer must lead to action.
4. Return – that even though we stuff up a lot, God always receives us back.
These four are one of simplest but most profound summary of what discipleship is all about. Benedict was trying to ensure that monasteries focused on Christian discipleship.
The prologue also emphasises urgency, the need to get on with it. ‘Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you.’
But with the full assurance of the love of God: ‘What can be sweeter to us, dear ones, that this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold in God’s loving kindness the Lord shows us the way of life.’
This is incredibly beautiful. TO see the whole of the prologue for yourself click here