This is the second in a series on St. Benedict for Beginners. – The Editors

"Saint Benedict of Nursia" by Fra Angelico

‘Whoever you are then, follow this little rule written for beginners.’

Saint Benedict’s monastic rule is sometimes thought of as an esoteric text to take the spiritually elite to the heights of mystic attainment. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Benedict’s rule is a practical, down to earth guide to community living and spiritual growth.

In the last sentence Benedict says he has written a ‘little rule for beginners.’ The Rule of Saint Benedict is for beginners because it starts at the beginning with the need for conversion of heart, then lays the foundation for the Christian life.

But Benedict probably means more than that when he calls his rule a ‘little rule for beginners’. In a sense, even the most experienced Christians remain beginners, because they realize they must always continue learning and growing. The surest sign of pride is believing we have arrived, and have nothing else to learn about the everlasting mystery.

By calling his rule a ‘little rule for beginners’ Benedict reminds us that ‘unless we become as a little child we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.’ No matter what our age we must continue to learn, and be filled with that grace and wonder which marks the truly child-like person.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the author of “Listen My Son” – a commentary on the Rule of St Benedict for families. Visit Fr. Dwight’s website to buy a copy here.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is author of thirteen books on the Catholic faith. Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing is available in Catholic bookshops and through his website:

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