1 First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your wholesoul and all your strength, 2 and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27).
3 Then the following: You are not to kill,
4 not to commit adultery;
5 you are not to steal
6 nor to covet (Rom 13:9);
7 you are not to bear false witness (Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20).
8 You must honor everyone (1 Pet 2:17),
9 and never do to another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16; Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31).
10 Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ (Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23);
11 discipline your body (1 Cor 9:27);
12 do not pamper yourself,
13 but love fasting.
14 You must relieve the lot of the poor,
15 clothe the naked,
16 visit the sick (Matt 25:36),
17 and bury the dead.
18 Go to help the troubled
19 and console the sorrowing.
20 Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way;
21 the love of Christ must come before all else.
22 You are not to act in anger
23 or nurse a grudge.
24 Rid your heart of all deceit.
25 Never give a hollow greeting of peace
26 or turn away when someone needs your love.
27 Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false,
28 but speak the truth with heart and tongue.
29 Do not repay one bad turn with another (1 Thess 5:15; 1 Pet 3:9).
30 Do not injure anyone, but bear injuries patiently.
31 Love your enemies (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27).
32 If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead.
33 Endure persecution for the sake of justice (Matt 5:10).
34 You must not be proud,
35 nor be given to wine (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3).
36 Refrain from too much eating
37 or sleeping,
38 and from laziness (Rom 12:11).
39 Do not grumble
40 or speak ill of others.
41 Place your hope in God alone.
42 If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself,
43 but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.
44 Live in fear of judgment day
45 and have a great horror of hell.
46 Yearn for everlasting life with holy desire.
47 Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die.
48 Hour by hour keep careful watch over all you do,
49 aware that God’s gaze is upon you, wherever you may be.
50 As soon as wrongful thoughts come into your heart, dash them against Christ and disclose them to your spiritual father. 51Guard your lips from harmful or deceptive speech.
52 Prefer moderation in speech
53 and speak no foolish chatter, nothing just to provoke laughter;
54 do not love immoderate or boisterous laughter.
55 Listen readily to holy reading,
56 and devote yourself often to prayer.
57 Every day with tears and sighs confess your past sins to God in prayer
58 and change from these evil ways in the future.
59 Do not gratify the promptings of the flesh (Gal 5:16);
60 hate the urgings of self-will.
61 Obey the orders of the abbot unreservedly, even if his own conduct–which God forbid–be at odds with what he says. Remember the teaching of the Lord: Do what they say, not what they do (Matt 23:3).
62 Do not aspire to be called holy before you really are, but first be holy that you may more truly be called so.
63 Live by God’s commandments every day;
64 treasure chastity,
65 harbor neither hatred
66 nor jealousy of anyone,
67 and do nothing out of envy.
68 Do not love quarreling;
69 shun arrogance.
70 Respect the elders
71 and love the young.
72 Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ.
73 If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.
74 And finally, never lose hope in God’s mercy.
75 These, then are the tools of the spiritual craft. 76When we have used them without ceasing day and night and have returned them on judgment day, our wages will be the reward the Lord has promised: 77 What the eye has not seen nor the ear heard, God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9).
78 The workshop where we are to toil faithfully at all these tasks is the enclosure of the monastery and stability in the community.
St. Benedict did it again. In Chapter 4, he points out to his monks to always place your hope in God alone. Sounds trite and a great slogan, but there is a wealth of meaning in that statement. My Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) last week, I thought of how lucky I was to have my Hope in God alone. I say that because I just went through Leukemia (CLL type) in 2014 and had a football size ball of CLL cells on my liver. Chemotherapy did its magic and flushed out these cells from my liver. I did have some side effects (I was and still am very tired every day–my wife calls it laziness), but came through with few of the things that could have happened. Hope became a new friend of mine during this time. Remember, Hope is not hope as the world defines it (as in I hope I win the Lottery).
I went from having hope that I would get better in my Leukemia treatment to Hope in seeking God in my life, right now, daily. Now, that is real Hope. This Hope is the Holy Spirit in me, it is Hope in the Resurrection, it is Hope that will realize the inheritance the Father has give me.
If I place my trust in Princes, as the Psalmist says, I won’t be satisfied. Trust in God alone because only God can give what the heart desires, life eternal. Trust in God alone because only God can bridge the gulf between death and eternal life. I don’t even trust in medicine to cure my physical illness because it is not the Hope that can propel me to Heaven. I trust medicine to do what it does best, help the body heal itself. God alone can heal the heart and overcome death.
I pray (not just say) Chapter 4 every day to remind myself why I Hope in God alone. What do you hope in? What do you Hope in? If you don’t know the differences in these two sentences, you need to re-read Chapter 4 over and over.