Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Saint Benedict of Nursia
(Nursia c. 480—Monte Cassino 543 A.D.)

    Benedict left life in Rome to be free of the sinful life led by many in the City.  He settled first at Subiaco, living the life of a hermit, but attracting disciples who wanted to learn the ways of holiness from him.  He established a number of monasteries in the area.  Around 529 he departed Subiaco for Monte Cassino, where he wrote his Holy Rule, and where he ended his earthly life.  He was not the first western monk, did not found the first western monastery, and did not write the first rule for monks in the West—but his long lasting and far reaching impact on the religious life has caused hi to be regarded as the founder of  western monasticism.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Saint Benedict of Nursia"

The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Monte Cassino."

The Holy Rule of Saint Benedict
1949 Edition, translated by Reverend Boniface Verheyen, OSB
Saint Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kansas, USA



    Listen, O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart, and cheerfully receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father, that by the toil of obedience thou mayest return to Him from whom by the sloth of disobedience thou hast gone away.

    To thee, therefore, my speech is now directed, who, giving up thine own will, takest up the strong and most excellent arms of obedience, to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King.

    In the first place, beg of Him by most earnest prayer, that He perfect whatever good thou dost begin, in order that He who hath been pleased to count us in the number of His children, need never be grieved at our evil deeds. For we ought at all times so to serve Him with the good things which He hath given us, that He may not, like an angry father, disinherit his children, nor, like a dread lord, enraged at our evil deeds, hand us over to everlasting punishment as most wicked servants, who would not follow Him to glory.

    Let us then rise at length, since the Scripture arouseth us, saying: "It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom 13:11); and having opened our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with awestruck ears what the divine voice, crying out daily, doth admonish us, saying: "Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Ps 94:8). And again: "He that hath ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches" (Apoc 2:7). And what doth He say? -- "Come, children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps 33:12). "Run whilst you have the light of life, that the darkness of death overtake you not" (Jn 12:35).

    And the Lord seeking His workman in the multitude of the people, to whom He proclaimeth these words, saith again: "Who is the man that desireth life and loveth to see good days" (Ps 33:13)? If hearing this thou answerest, "I am he," God saith to thee: "If thou wilt have true and everlasting life, keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile; turn away from evil and do good; seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps 33:14-15). And when you shall have done these things, my eyes shall be upon you, and my ears unto your prayers. And before you shall call upon me I will say: "Behold, I am here" (Is 58:9).

    What, dearest brethren, can be sweeter to us than this voice of the Lord inviting us? See, in His loving kindness, the Lord showeth us the way of life. Therefore, having our loins girt with faith and the performance of good works, let us walk His ways under the guidance of the Gospel, that we may be found worthy of seeing Him who hath called us to His kingdom (cf 1 Thes 2:12).

    If we desire to dwell in the tabernacle of His kingdom, we cannot reach it in any way, unless we run thither by good works. But let us ask the Lord with the Prophet, saying to Him: "Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle, or who shall rest in Thy holy hill" (Ps 14:1)?

    After this question, brethren, let us listen to the Lord answering and showing us the way to this tabernacle, saying: "He that walketh without blemish and worketh justice; he that speaketh truth in his heart; who hath not used deceit in his tongue, nor hath done evil to his neighbor, nor hath taken up a reproach against his neighbor" (Ps 14:2-3), who hath brought to naught the foul demon tempting him, casting him out of his heart with his temptation, and hath taken his evil thoughts whilst they were yet weak and hath dashed them against Christ (cf Ps 14:4; Ps 136:9); who fearing the Lord are not puffed up by their goodness of life, but holding that the actual good which is in them cannot be done by themselves, but by the Lord, they praise the Lord working in them (cf Ps 14:4), saying with the Prophet: "Not to us, O Lord, not to us; by to Thy name give glory" (Ps 113::9). Thus also the Apostle Paul hath not taken to himself any credit for his preaching, saying: "By the grace of God, I am what I am" (1 Cor 15:10). And again he saith: "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Cor 10:17).

    Hence, the Lord also saith in the Gospel: "He that heareth these my words and doeth them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house upon a rock; the floods came, the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock" (Mt 7:24-25). The Lord fulfilling these words waiteth for us from day to day, that we respond to His holy admonitions by our works. Therefore, our days are lengthened to a truce for the amendment of the misdeeds of our present life; as the Apostle saith: "Knowest thou not that the patience of God leadeth thee to penance" (Rom 2:4)? For the good Lord saith: "I will not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live" (Ezek 33:11).

Now, brethren, that we have asked the Lord who it is that shall dwell in His tabernacle, we have heard the conditions for dwelling there; and if we fulfil the duties of tenants, we shall be heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Our hearts and our bodies must, therefore, be ready to do battle under the biddings of holy obedience; and let us ask the Lord that He supply by the help of His grace what is impossible to us by nature. And if, flying from the pains of hell, we desire to reach life everlasting, then, while there is yet time, and we are still in the flesh, and are able during the present life to fulfil all these things, we must make haste to do now what will profit us forever.

    We are, therefore, about to found a school of the Lord's service, in which we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome. But even if, to correct vices or to preserve charity, sound reason dictateth anything that turneth out somewhat stringent, do not at once fly in dismay from the way of salvation, the beginning of which cannot but be narrow. But as we advance in the religious life and faith, we shall run the way of God's commandments with expanded hearts and unspeakable sweetness of love; so that never departing from His guidance and persevering in the monastery in His doctrine till death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ, and be found worthy to be coheirs with Him of His kingdom.

Medal of Saint Benedict

    The Holy Rule Chapter V:  On obedience

    The Holy Rule Chapter VI: On Silence

    The Holy Rule Chapter VII: On Humility

    In accord with the Rule, the motto of the Order is "Ora et Labora—Pray and Work."  The Rule contains instructions for a round of prayers, day and night, including all of the one hundred-fifty Psalms each week.  This is similar to the traditional Roman Office, but the distribution of Psalms and the number of Psalms at each hour differs somewhat from the Roman pattern. The chart below was developed from chapters VII through XIX of the Rule.

Psalter of the Divine Office according to the Rule of Saint Benedict
Chapters 8 - 19

Where letters follow the number of a Psalm (e.g. 67a, 67b), the Psalm verses are divided as evenly as possible, to preserve the customary number of Psalms at each hour. 

  Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Matins 3, 94, antiphon, hymn, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 with antiphons, versicle, 4 lessons with resp.* Gloria, Psalms 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 with alleluias, 4 lessons with resp.* 3 canticles with alleluias,  versicle, 4 N.T. lessons with resp., Te Deum, Gospel, Te decet laus, blessing 3, 94, antiphon, hymn, Psalms 32a, 32b, 33, 34, 36a, 36b, with antiphons, versicle, 3 lessons with resp.* Gloria, Psalms 37, 38, 39a, 39b, 40, 41, with alleluias, fixed epistle, versicle, Kyrie 3, 94, antiphon, hymn, Psalms 43a, 43b, 44, 45, 46, 47, with antiphons, versicle, 3 lessons with resp.* Gloria, Psalms  48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, with alleluias, fixed epistle, versicle, Kyrie 3, 94, antiphon, hymn,  Psalms  55, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, with antiphons, versicle, 3 lessons with resp.* Gloria, Psalms  65, 67a, 67b, 68a, 68b, 69 with alleluias, fixed epistle, versicle, Kyrie  3, 94, antiphon, hymn, Psalms  70, 71, 72a, 72b, 73a, 73b with antiphons, versicle, 3 lessons with resp.* Gloria, Psalms 74, 76, 77a, 77b, 78, 79 with alleluias, fixed epistle, versicle, Kyrie 3, 94, antiphon, hymn, Psalms  80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85 with antiphons, versicle, 3 lessons with resp.* Gloria,  Psalms  86,  88, 92, 93, 95, 96 with alleluias, fixed epistle, versicle, Kyrie 3, 94, antiphon, hymn,  Psalms  97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102,   with antiphons, versicle, 3 lessons with resp.* Gloria, Psalms  103, 104, 105 106, 107, 108 with alleluias, fixed epistle, versicle, Kyrie

Matins always begin with "Deus in Adjutorium meum intende..." the verse "Domine, labia mea aperies..." (Psalm 50:17) three times, followed by Psalm 3 with Gloria Patri, and Psalm 94 with its antiphon.  There are always at least twelve other Psalms.  *The lessons at Matins are from the Old and New Testaments as well as the "famous and orthodox Catholic Fathers."  In summer they are replaced with a single memorized lesson from the Old Testament.

Lauds 66, 50, 117, 62, Dan 3:52-?, 148, 149, 150 66, 50, 5, 35, Canticle? 148, 149, 150 66, 50, 42, 56, Canticle? 148, 149, 150 66, 50, 63, 64, Canticle? 148, 149, 150 66, 50, 87, 89, Canticle? 148, 149, 150 66, 50, 75, 91, Canticle? 148, 149, 150 66, 50, 142, Deut.?:aa-bb, Deut.?:cc-dd 148, 149, 150

Lauds are always concluded with: a fixed lesson from the Apocalypse on Sundays, or a lesson from the Epistles on other days; a responsory, hymn, and versicle; the Benedictus (Luke i: 68-79); Kyrie, Pater, and the collect(s) of the day.

Prime 118a, 118b, 118c, 118d 1, 2, 6 7, 8, 9a 9b, 10, 11 12, 13, 14 15, 16, 17a 17b, 18, 19
Terce 118e, 118f, 118g 118n, 118o, 118p 119, 120, 121 119, 120, 121 119, 120, 121 119, 120, 121 119, 120, 121
Sext 118h, 118i, 118j 118q, 118r, 118s 122, 123, 124 122, 123, 124 122, 123, 124 122, 123, 124 122, 123, 124
None 118k, 118l, 118m 118t, 118u, 118v 125, 126, 127 125, 126, 127 125, 126, 127 125, 126, 127 125, 126, 127
Vespers 109, 110, 111, 112 113, 114, 115+116, 128  129, 130, 131, 132 134, 135, 136, 137 138a, 138b, 139, 140 141, 143a, 143b, 144a 144b, 145, 146, 147
Compline 4, 90, 133 4, 90, 133 4, 90, 133 4, 90, 133 4, 90, 133 4, 90, 133 4, 90, 133


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