Order of Saint Benedict - Benedictine Vow and Life

Benedictine Vow and Life

The Rule of Saint Benedict (ch. 58.17) requires candidates for reception into a Benedictine community to promise solemnly stability (to remain in the same monastery), conversatio morum (an idiomatic Latin phrase suggesting "conversion of manners"), and obedience (to the superior, because the superior holds the place of Christ in their community). This solemn commitment tends to be referred to as the "Benedictine vow" and is the Benedictine antecedent and equivalent of the evangelical counsels professed by candidates for reception into a religious order. Much scholarship over the last 50 years has been dedicated to the translation of conversatio morum. The older translation "conversion of life" has generally been replaced with phrases such as "a monastic manner of life," drawing from the Vulgate's use of conversatio as the translation of "citizenship" or "homeland" in Philippians 3:20. Some scholars have claimed that the vow formula of the Rule is best translated as "to live in this place as a monk, in obedience to its rule and abbot."

Benedictine abbots and abbesses have full jurisdiction of their abbey and thus absolute authority over the monks or nuns who are resident. This authority includes the power to assign duties, to decide which books may or may not be read, to regulate comings and goings, and to punish and excommunicate.

A tight communal timetable (horarium) is meant to ensure that the time given by God is not wasted but in whichever way necessary used in his service, whether for prayer, work, meals, spiritual reading, sleep.

Although Benedictines do not take a vow of silence, hours of strict silence are set, and at other time silence is maintained as much as is practically possible. Social conversations tend to be limited to communal recreation times. But such details, like many others details of the daily routine of a Benedictine house that the Rule of St Benedict leaves to the discretion of the superior, are set out in its customary.

In the Roman Catholic Church according to the norms of the Code of Canon Law 1983 a Benedictine abbey is a "religious institute", and its professed members are therefore members of the "Consecrated Life", commonly referred to as "Religious". Benedictine monks who have not been ordained and all nuns are members of the laity among the Christian faithful. Only those Benedictine monks who have been ordained as a deacon or priest are also members of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. Benedictine Oblates endeavor to embrace the spirit of the Benedictine vow in their own life in the world.

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