Ways in to the Text
St. Benedict was a Christian saint who significantly influenced the development of monasticism, or monkhood—a practice in which a person relinquishes worldly concerns to focus on religious devotion. Most scholars agree that St. Benedict wrote The Rule of St. Benedict around 540. It comprises 73 chapters, each of which addresses some aspect of monastic living. The book was also important because it helped monks balance between asceticism—the practice of denying one's cravings—and personal indulgence. Thus, it benefitted both individuals and entire communities. Even more important, the thousands of men and women who belong to monastic groups today still use The Rule of St. Benedict as a practical guide. Those groups include the Order of St. Benedict, the Cistercian Order, and the Order of the Cistercians of Strict Observance, or Trappists. Some people in the business community have recently become interested in The Rule.