Prologue To the Rule of St. Benedict
Section 5 Verses 19 and 21
What can be sweeter to us, dear brethren, than this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold, in His loving kindness the Lord shows us the way of life. Having our loins girded (Eph. 6: 14 — 16), therefore with faith and the performance of good works, let us walk in His paths by the guidance of the Gospel, that we deserve to see Him who has called us to His kingdom, (1 Thessalonians 2: 12).
What can be sweeter to us, dear brethren, than this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold, in His loving kindness the Lord shows us the way of life.
- Here St. Benedict pauses and reiterates what has already been said. It is a little pep talk, before we continue with the second half of his Prologue. And most of us need it.
- It is probably no exaggeration to say that there is nothing in St. Benedict’s Prologue which we don’t already know. As is often very rightly said of the Bible, we read it, not because we don’t know what is written there — but because we do! We read it to refresh our jaded vision, our wilting hope. In like manner, St. Benedict directs us back to Scripture to unfold new levels of understanding and to recover our sense of belonging, identity and purpose. He therefore assumes his reader is familiar with the material he presents. He demonstrates therefore that his Rule, as with the Bible itself, is not so much to inform us but to form.
Having our loins girded (Eph. 6: 14 — 16), therefore with faith and the performance of good works, let us walk in His paths by the guidance of the Gospel, that we deserve to see Him who has called us to His kingdom.(1 Thessalonians 2: 12).
The early Christians had no problem embracing the complementary roles of faith and good works. Sadly, some religious leaders later rejected that position and in so doing. departed from the Scripture they so assertively claimed as their only guide and authority.
St. Benedict reflects the custom of the early Church in highlighting the four accounts of the Gospel (St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John) as the chief element of Scripture bequeathed by the Lord to His Church to guide them “safely home”. As we shall see later, how we look upon Scripture and use it will influence significantly our progress in His service.
- It would be helpful to note here that St. Benedict is talking about the Lord Jesus and us, as his disciples, down through the ages. It is therefore entirely proper for us to embark on this great journey of faith at the end of which we shall surely “see Him”. Many a Christian has wondered just how to interpret our Lord’s injunction: “Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God”, (Matthew 5: 8). St. Benedict is helping us prepare ourselves for this great privilege, and, to grow in our understanding of what Jesus meant and what St. Paul was referring to in 1 Thes. 2: 12.
17. The Gospel accounts recorded by St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John form the principal or key documents by which we interpret and understand the rest of the Bible.
Strangely, in our time, even a casual conversation with many Christians soon discloses how little is understood about these wonderful Scriptures. The good news is that it need not be that way: quality resources are available to help us develop a reasonable understanding of all the Gospels. Meditation on the Sunday Gospel readings, or on each Gospel taken systematically will soon begin to shape the thinking of the person who makes the effort. A simple approach followed regularly within a family will also produce valuable results.