One of the exercises I require for the Benedictine Spirituality course is for each learner to craft a rule for life. Rather than a set of “rules,” a rule is more like a trellis supporting the growth of a plant. It helps determine the direction one goes and fosters intentionality for achieving specific goals.
During the week at the Abbey, we observe what it means for a community to live according to the Rule of St. Benedict, which has been guiding monastic communities for over 1500 years. It is a very practical set of prescriptions that has been adapted over the years as culture has shifted. Yet, it remains secondary only to Scripture in shaping the life of the Benedictines.
Here is the guidance I offer for this project:
Rule (rool) n. 1. A prescribed, suggested, or self-imposed guide for action and conduct; 2.The teaching of a wise spiritual guide, such as St. Benedict; 3. An aid to spiritual growth, like a trellis is for a plant;
For some, a rather strict and precise rule works better; others may find this constricting. A rule is very useful in the process of vocational discernment and clarification. One can grow in insight and clarity, and one can summon a practical response to obstacles to the rule.
Each year I undertake this practice, also. I have found it formative along the way.
Molly T. Marshall