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St. Benedict - Philosophy and EthicsSt. 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

St. Benedict - Philosophy and Ethics

  • do good for others with humility, trust, respect and friendship, even if it hurts you.
  • never be deceitful, angry, or nurse a grudge.
  • be patient and forgiving 
  • 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 life.

 St. Benedict - Philosophy and Ethics

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.


3. Listen

Listen intently and sensitively to God and other people with:

  • sensitivity to their needs.
  • an open mind.
  • the greatest possible concentration.

“Listen with the ear of the heart”, he said.


St. Benedict - Philosophy and Ethics

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 blaming others.


  • avoid addictions to unimportant or harmful things.
  • accept you will sometimes do wrong and face failure and disappointment.
  • 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.

St. Benedict - Philosophy and Ethics 

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).

 St. Benedict - Philosophy and Ethics

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.

 St. Benedict - Philosophy and Ethics

8. Balance

Do different things and seek the right balance between work and leisure.

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 his monks.


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.

St. Benedict - Philosophy and Ethics 

10. Think and then act

Quiet reflection (e.g. in prayer) is essential to think about:

  • your life.
  • 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 communication

Listen with the ear of the heart.

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