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Today’s Reading from the Rule of Benedict

December 11, 2009


Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Brothers

When anyone is newly come for the reformation of his life,
let him not be granted an easy entrance;
but, as the Apostle says,
“Test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”
If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
and if it is seen after four or five days
that he bears patiently the harsh treatment offered him
and the difficulty of admission,
and that he persists in his petition,
then let entrance be granted him,
and let him stay in the guest house for a few days.

After that let him live in the novitiate,
where the novices study, eat and sleep.
A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
to watch over them with the utmost care.
Let him examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
and whether he is zealous
for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
by which the journey to God is made.

If he promises stability and perseverance,
then at the end of two months
let this rule be read through to him,
and let him be addressed thus:
“Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
If you can observe it, enter;
if you cannot, you are free to depart.”
If he still stands firm,
let him be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
and again tested in all patience.
And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to him,
that he may know on what he is entering.
And if he still remains firm,
after four months let the same Rule be read to him again.

Then, having deliberated with himself,
if he promises to keep it in its entirety
and to observe everything that is commanded,
let him be received into the community.
But let him understand that,
according to the law of the Rule,
from that day forward he may not leave the monastery
nor withdraw his neck from under the yoke of the Rule
which he was free to refuse or to accept
during that prolonged deliberation.

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