The Benedictine Way


The virtue of obedience is directed at helping each sister go beyond her own selfishness and self-will and grow in willingness to be of generous service to the community. It is not an attitude of "go-along, get-along," but a radical surrender of oneself, above all to God, but on a daily basis to whatever God puts in my life. It is also a kind of radical non-violence, refraining as much as possible from setting my will and preferences in opposition to those of others, which is the root of all violence.


"Trappist" means "silent" to many people, and although we no longer observe the almost total absence of speech practiced in recent centuries, we still maintain an atmosphere of silence in which we can be attentive to God at every moment, and grow in self-knowledge. At certain times of the day (evening and early morning) we refrain from all communication with each other, verbal or non-verbal, to free one another for prayer.


The most essential monastic virtue, humility is a willingness to learn the truth about myself (however unpleasant). The truly humble Christian is not an insecure doormat, but a person whose whole security is Jesus Christ. She does not pretend to have all the answers, but is always willing to learn. She puts love into action by not putting herself above others and by making what is good for the other person a higher priority than her own good. 


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The first step of humility is obedience without delay, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.

- Rule of St Benedict, Ch 5, "Obedience".


So important is silence that permission to speak should seldom be granted even to mature disciples.

- Rule of St Benedict, Ch 6, "Restraint of Speech" 


If we want to reach the highest summit of humility, if we desire to attain speedily that exaltation in heaven to which we climb by the humility of this present life, then let us set up that ladder on which Jacob in a dream saw angels descending and ascending. Now the ladder erected is our life on earth, and if we humble our hearts the Lord will raise it to heaven.

- Rule of St Benedict, Ch 7, "Humility"