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Rule Of St. Benedict And It’s Significant In The Development Of European Civilization

1566 words - 7 pages

Monasticism or monarchism is literally the act of "dwelling alone". The Rule of St Benedict played an important role in Europe during the middle ages, monks were able to preserve many classical works from both the Romans and the Greeks while acting as copiers that produced books, they were the most pious of the church and acted as a model for the average person to strive for. It dignified manual labor, the rule acted as a written constitution and rule of law for most monasteries, policies could be seen as harsh by some but the overall message is built around a positive spirit of reconciliation. The Rule of St. Benedict most significant role for the development of European civilization was education.
The beginning of Christian monasticism can be divided into two main types, the eremitical or solitary and the coenobitical or family type. St. Anthony may be called the founder of the purely eremitical system or hermit life style living out in the desert, while St. Pachomius was the founder of the second less solitary and more community based way of life. The rule of St. Anthony or the Antonian system left the monks way of life up to his own discretion. This contrasted the Rule of St. Pachomius who were almost all living as a community yet without the stability brought by the rule of St. Benedict. The two rules would rival each other in Egypt but wouldn’t become a model outside of Egypt. Then in the 4th century St. Basil changed and reordered Greek monasticism. He rejected the idea of the eremitical life and insisted upon the community life with meals work and prayer all in common much like St. Benedict. When St. Benedict went to write his own rule he was able to use his own experience. He lived an Egyptian solitary life and a community life like St. Basil. So his rule had a combination of old and new ideas. The rule eliminated its rivals and it put the individual in the community. St. Benedict gave monasteries stability and organization. St. Benedict's Rule was the turning-point which changed the whole trend of monasticism in the West. However Charlemagne King of the Franks would really get the rule spreading. He visited Monte Cassino where he had a copy made of the rule so that he could send the text to all the monasteries in his empire. His promotion of the rule of St. Benedict would make it spread like wild fire.
In the Rule of St. Benedict, Benedict starts off by talking about the four kinds of monks. Cenobites, Anchorites or hermits, Sarabaites and Landlopers. Cenobites to him are monastic, and live under a rule and an Abbot. Anchorites or hermits “that is, of those who, no longer in the first fervor of their conversion, but taught by long monastic practice and the help of many brethren, have already learned to fight against the devil; and going forth from the rank of their brethren well trained for single combat in the desert, they are able, with the help of God, to cope single-handed without the help of others, against the vices of the flesh...

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