The Western Roman Empire had been in slow decline for decades, but began to rapidly disintegrate during the first half of the sixth century. Emperors were weak, local factions fought each other for power and land, Goths from northern and eastern Europe began to migrate en masse into every part of the empire, including the Italian peninsula. It was a time of civil and military disorder. The bishop of Rome, not yet called pope, did what he could to provide moral authority and leadership with not a lot of success. In the midst of it was Benedict of Nursia who understood that if humanity was to flourish it needed an ordered life that made adequate room for all essential needs. Only then could harmony, learning, and exploration of new ways gain solid footing.
Unable to change Rome he did something with a small group of monks, founding a monastery on top of the hill called Monte Casino. Living together under his rule of life they were called the Benedictines. The Rule of Benedict was short and to the point. An ordered life required enough time for sleep, a good eight hours, prayer and reflection, study, work, leisure, and eating. Who could have imagined that an obscure monk from the early sixth century would come up with a rule of life that has endured for over 1,500 years? Adapted in various ways it has guided religious orders of every kind, but more important it is a solid foundation for the daily lives of all humanity.
Kindle, Apple Books and book stores sell self help books almost as fast as they can get them to market. Daily papers and magazines are replete with self helping advice columns. Radio, television and the internet smother all with more. The worthwhile is mixed with the absurd and harmful, and each has its avid consumers.
None, not one, surpasses the enduring wisdom of the Rule of Benedict that with adaptions for modern secular life remains a rule for the good life at home, work, and leisure.
- Get the sleep you d, eight hours for most.
II. Get the food you need at regular times – not more than you need.
III.Do your work diligently. Avoid long hours and projects you cannot give the attention they need within the time allowed.
IV. Dedicate time in the morning, noon, afternoon and at bedtime for prayer, reflection, and mental health breaks.
V. Dedicate time each day for study, relaxation, or for developing a new skill.
VI. Be a person of courageous integrity, following God in Christ Jesus in the way of love as best you can.
VII.Take no pride in possessions, knowing they are only temporarily in your care.
Benedict would no doubt blanche at this bowdlerized adaptation of the rule, but I think if offers a simple, doable way of a happy secular life in the 21st century, that avoids fads and magical cure-alls. No. doubt there will be obstacles and constraints. Corporations and other organizations often have little regard for the need employees have for a balanced life if they are to be fully productive. Family and social conditions my not be favorable. Follow Christ and do the best you can.