RULE OF ST. BENEDICT: Chapter 4. Prefer nothing to the love of Christ

The following are thoughts from my most recent Lectio Divina on Phil 2:5. St. Benedict states to his monks in Chapter 4 that they should prefer nothing to the love of Christ. Here is the quote from Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict.

9.   And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself. 10. To deny oneself in order to follow Christ. 11. To chastise the body. 12. Not to become attached to pleasures. 13. To love fasting. 14. To relieve the poor. 15. To clothe the naked. 16. To visit the sick. 17. To bury the dead. 18. To help in trouble. 19. To console the sorrowing. 20. To become a stranger to the world’s ways. 21. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

I asked myself, what if I really preferred nothing to the love of Christ. How would that look in the way I live my life? What would be the ways I would have to live that I am not doing now?


Putting Christ as the center of your life can be dangerous to how you look at life. Dangerous in the sense that you have to rearrange your priorities.  Here are some of the things I had to do to attempt, and I stress attempt, to prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

  • To prefer nothing about something is to state that EVERYTHING is measured, is treasured by the Christ Principle. A principle, as I learned in back in 1960, is that which proceeds from anything in any way. An example of that which always made sense to me is the hub of a bicycle wheel with spokes being everything that flows from it.
  • Practically, I try to think of the totality of all that is and see Christ as the center or purpose for all of it. In the morning, when I get up, I make a Morning Offering to Christ asking to give glory to the Father through Him in union with the Holy Spirit. If I prefer nothing, then I must do something to place Christ EACH DAY as my center, and remind myself that I do all for the love of Christ.
  • When the world tempts me to be my own god by doing my will instead of seeking to love God with all my heart, my mind and my strength, I need to re-center myself on what is important.
  • And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince.  To prefer nothing to the love of Christ, I must daily focus on that love, nourishing it (practice daily Cistercian practices of Lectio Divina, Reading Chapter 4 of the Rule, Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours), wanting to deepen it more and more,(desiring to move from self to God), finding ways of sitting next to the heart of Christ and just listening (contemplation).
  • If you love someone, you will give up all you have to follow him or her. For religious, it means joining a monastery or an order; for married, it means seeking to make those old wedding pictures new; for those single, it means finding meaning with Christ as your center, however that plays out.  You don’t have to be a monk or a nun to follow St. Benedict’s Rule of preferring nothing to the love of Christ. All you have to be is a sinner trying and failing to love God with all your heart, your mind, and your strength and your neighbor as yourself (Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22:37)

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A danger in using this approach is being so fanatic that you go “Jesus crazy” and so frenetic that you think you are the sole representative of who Jesus is on earth, both past and present. This is making god in your own image and likeness. Love usually careens down the middle of the road of life so as not to drive off into a ditch on the side.

If you are a new Catholic, you don’t start off by loving God with your whole heart. It takes time, in fact a lifetime, to try and fail and try and fail. Pace yourself in the race of loving Christ with other runners. All of us fail when compared to Christ. Peter did. Paul did. John did. Benedict did. Dominic did. Pope Francis does. and so do you.

You are not me; I am not you; God is not you; and you, certainly, are not God.  –mfc


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