Years ago, when I first bumped into the tale of Benedict, and heard of his famous Rule, I was turned off. All this seemed more than a little fanatical. Rules and regulations, and the dour monks who attended to them, were neither attractive nor inspiring. The whole notion of a Rule conjured up images of a drab and colorless life, men who were austere, forbidding, cold. I was naïve. I knew of such things only from books. More than that, I’d not lived long enough.
As a teenager, my father had wilderness rules that turned me off too. Sauntering across some high country glacier, dad could seem pretty austere, forbidding, and cold. I was young, and his backcountry rules often felt inhibiting, even repressive. I was too young then, too naïve to know that dad’s rules were a form of grace. They not only gave me tools to stay alive in a wide variety of situations, but they also modeled a way for me to encounter the world around me with reverence and awe, able to enjoy creation and revel in the wonder of God.
It’s true, the Latin word, regula, can mean rule, regulation, and regimen, but it can also refer to a model, guideline, or pattern by which we direct and measure our lives.
This latter sense of the word, I’ve grown to learn, is the true sense of St. Benedict’s regula.
Click here to read my Daily Guide.