Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Benedictine Values: Moderation

by Fr. Adrian Burke, OSB


"Yet, all things are to be done with moderation..." 
Rule of St. Benedict 48:9

When teaching monastic history to the novices, I speak about the men and women in the early Church who laid the foundation for what would become Benedictine monasticism. I describe them as people impelled by the love of Christ to live out their faith "whole hog."

This desire for Christ prompted them to embrace, in a rather literal fashion, the lifestyle of Jesus through obedience, voluntary poverty  and celibate chastity,  and to live in community as the Church did in ancient times (Acts 4:32-35).

Yet, St. Benedict counsels moderation in all things--moderation and common sense--so as not to frighten away the "faint-hearted," nor be so easy as to not give the strong something to strive for (cf. RB 64 where St. Benedict describes the desirable traits of a good abbot).

Even in monasteries, moderation sometimes has to be insisted upon so as to avoid what otherwise might allow for an imbalanced life, or worse, pride,  because the spirit of competition can impede our sincerity, and one can fall to comparing oneself to others in a spirit of envy or jealousy.

Benedict insists in his  Rule  that we must balance our lives with prayer and  work, with reading and  recreation, with rest and  activity. The only competition Benedict's  Rule  allows is having the good zeal of mutual obedience  by seeking to pursue what is better for someone else rather than what is better for oneself (RB 72:6-7).

This kind of wisdom is why St. Benedict's  Rule  continues, after more than 1,500 years now, to stir the hearts of men and women who want to live their lives entirely for Christ.

Do you have a reflection on Christian faith or spirituality you would like to share? Click here to learn how to become a contributor to Echoes from the Bell Tower.

Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.