St. Benedict - Philosophy and Ethics
St. Benedict (480-547)
Italian founder (pictured right) of the famous Benedictine Order of monks.
The monks live by his code of conduct, the “Rule of St. Benedict”, which he said, will give you
happiness and peace of mind.
What does the Rule of St. Benedict say?
1. Love one another
- do good for others with humility, trust, respect and friendship, even if it
- never be deceitful, angry, or nurse a grudge.
- treat everybody the same.
- let people find their own solutions to problems with God’s help.
- be prepared to receive as well as give.
Sex is an expression of love and a wonderful thing, but it shouldn’t dominate your
2. Obey God, because He loves you
- do what God and Jesus want
you to do, not what you want (so read the Bible)
- never doubt God’s love and mercy.
Listen intently and sensitively to God and other people with:
- sensitivity to their needs.
- the greatest possible concentration.
“Listen with the ear of the heart”, he said.
4. Learn to become a better and more loving person
With God’s help teach yourself to deal with life’s problems and take full advantage of its opportunities without
- avoid addictions to unimportant or harmful things.
- accept you will sometimes do wrong and face failure and
- continuously improve by seeking new experiences and more
knowledge with the help of your beliefs and faith in God.
5. Accept yourself and other people
Be the best possible person, developing your strengths and overcoming your weaknesses.
Patiently accept other people’s weaknesses, and don’t try to make them into something they
don’t want to be.
6. Be passionate and positive
Do everything with urgency and enthusiasm, even the ordinary things
like the washing up!
Face the future with hope and optimism.
See your life as different episodes: when one ends (e.g. your children leaving home),
another will begin (e.g. more time to do other things for yourself and others).
7. Do it now!
- be thankful for what you’ve got
- do something worthwhile now.
- don’t live in the past, longing for what you have lost or never had.
Do different things and seek the right balance between work and
Every day a Benedictine monk must find equal time for prayer, study, good works and manual work, so that both
the mind and body are improved.
Pictured right is Giovanni Bazzi's (1477-1549) painting of Benedict eating with
9. Don’t be ruled by money and possessions
Value the most important things like love and friendship.
Live simply (cutting out unnecessary spending), and don’t be
greedy or nasty.
10. Think and then act
Quiet reflection (e.g. in prayer) is essential to think about:
- what God wants you to do with it.
Then put that thought into action.
Key quote on work
To work is to pray (his motto).
Key quote on
Listen with the ear of the heart.