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  • Writer's pictureRichard Southworth

Living By A Rule of Life


Photo by Winnie Southworth

The Rule of Saint Benedict has played an important role in my spiritual journey. It has touched me in a number of different ways.

In the early days of my practice a friend recommended the book Preferring Christ: A Devotional Commentary and Workbook on the Rule of St. Benedict (Link) by Norvene Vest, ( and I began to use this as readings in my daily practice. I was first amazed that this ancient text spoke to me in such a powerful way. I have struggled with a lot of older spiritual literature. The language often seems foreign, and the metaphors and concepts frequently do not work for me. Yet The Rule speaks to something deep inside of me that many other writings do not touch. As I focused on each section in my daily time apart I found myself challenged to look at many different aspects of the way I live my life. I found myself becoming more and more open to aspects of my own life call that had been hidden before, and I became more and more aware of a deep inner longing to respond to those discoveries and change the way I live my life. I found I was able to consciously make different choices that were more consonant with who I am called to be as a unique spiritual person, and I found that many other changes seemed to come as gifts from The Mysterious Other that only required my openness and availability.

I have worked through The Rule more than once, and each time I discover something new. The new discoveries are not so much found in the meaning of the text itself, although that does happen. Each time I read a section of The Rule in my practice it touches something new in me. I discover new places where I am called to grow and change. I experience new gifts of The Mystery that I was not expecting. The Rule continues to surprise me and to be a catalyst for transformation and conversion of heart in my journey.

A major part of what gives life to my writing and teaching is a deep sense of calling to share those things that have led to change and growth for me in the hope that, in some small way, it can speak to others on the spiritual journey. In that light each of the reflections in this category will focus on a few verses of The Rule. I will quote the actual verses from The Rule and offer my own insights and reflections. I will add questions for reflection at the end of each reflection. I challenge you to take these questions into your own practice. Listen for what that Mysterious Other might reveal about your own calling to growth and change. Be open and available for the transformation and conversion of heart that comes both as gift and as fruits of your commitment to your spiritual practice.

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20 dic 2020

I knew Norvene Vest (and her husband Doug) years ago. She has written 3-4 books, all worthwhile. And I too have found Benedict's Rule a good source, and got to know it especially when I was living in a Benedictine monastery while writing my Ph.D. dissertation. I still keep in touch with the monks there. You may remember having visited there yourself.

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LuEllen Buhrman
LuEllen Buhrman
13 dic 2020

Richard, thank you for this post. I first learned about The Rule of St. Benedict from Ralph Starling and I believe I first met you and Winnie in a study group exploring The Rule led by Ralph. There is much in The Rule that has also resonated with me. This post is an excellent reminder that I need to devote more time to studying The Rule and finding ways to practice it.

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