"i am a worm" -- 1/23/15

Today's selection - from The Rule of St. Benedict. Benedict (c. 480 AD to 543 or 547 AD) was a religious ascetic who withdrew from the overwhelming pace of the city of Rome to a private, separate existence near in nearby Subiaco, Italy. In doing so, he acted much like thousands of religious ascetics in all religions in the centuries both before and since. Benedict is remembered because of his book The Rule of St. Benedict which defined how the group of like-minded ascetics he presided over should live and work. Benedict went on to found eleven additional "monasteries" or communities of monks, and his book was so well-regarded for its effectiveness and reasonableness that it was adopted by many other such communities throughout Europe, which is a dominant theme of the book and highly representative of ascetic principles in other philosophies and religions:

St. Benedict delivering his rule to the monks of his order

"Brothers, the Holy Scripture cries to us, saying; 'For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.' ...

"The first step, then, of humility is for a man to always have fear of God before his eyes, and never forget it. ... Let him recognize that God is always looking down on him from Heaven; that all his actions, wherever he may be, are in clear view to the eye of God, and are at every hour presented to Him by His Angels. ... The Scripture also forbids us to do our own will, saying: 'keep your desires in check.' ...

"The fourth step of humility is when being obedient causes things to become hard, contrary, or even if wrongs are done to him, for him to nonetheless embrace the suffering with a quiet conscience, and not to grow weary, and not give in to them, since the Scripture says: 'But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.' ...

"The sixth degree of humility is for a Monk to be content with the lowest and most menial treatment, and in everything thinks of himself an evil and worthless servant, saying with the Prophet: 'I was stupid and could not understand; I was like a brute beast in your presence.' ...

"The seventh degree of humility is for a Monk, not only to pronounce with his tongue, but also in his very heart to believe himself to be the most abject, and inferior to all; and humbling himself, to say with the Prophet: 'But I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people' ...

"The ninth degree of humility is for a Monk to refrain his tongue from speaking, and be silent until a question is asked of him, remembering the saying of the Scripture: 'Where words are many, sin is not wanting,' and 'Slanderers will not survive on earth.'

"The tenth degree of humility is not to be easily moved and prompted to laughter, for it is written: 'A fool raises his voice in laughter.'

"The eleventh degree of humility is for a Monk to speak gently, humbly, discreetly, with few words, without laughter, and without raising his voice; for it is written: 'wise men's words are in their hearts.' "


St. Benedict


The Rule of St. Benedict


Saint Benedict Press


Copyright 1981 by the Order of St. Benedict, Inc.


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