Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Columbanus (543-615)

The Rule of Columbanus

Columbanus developed a monastic rule or set of guiding principles for life in his communities.  I n 627 Columbanus' Rule  was approved of by the Council of Macon for general monastic use outside the Celtic model. Before the close of the century it was superseded by the Rule of St. Benedict. For several centuries in some of the greater monasteries the two rules were observed.

It is much shorter than the Benedictine Rule, consisting of only ten chapters.The first six are concerned with obedience, silence, food, poverty, humility, and chastity. The first six chapters of the Benedictine code has much in common with these, except Columbanus' fasting is more rigorous.

Chapter VII deals in exacting detail with the daily Offices and how they will be ordered and employed in the life of the community. 

Chapter VIII explores the need for and use of discernment in the spiritual life.

Chapter IX is concerned with what Columbanus refers to as mortification more commonly understood by us today as death to self or surrender.

Chapter X regulates penances for offenses, and it is here that the Rule of St. Columbanus differs so widely from that of St. Benedict. The Celts developed the Penitential which were later adopted and expanded by the Roman Church. More on the original concept of penance in cletic monstic life.

Below is the opening of The Rule of Columbanus:

Here begin the chapters of the Rule
1. On Obedience
2. On Silence
3. On Food and Drink
4. On Poverty
5. On Overcoming Vanity
6. On Chastity
7. On Choir Office
8. On Discernment
9. On Mortification (the death of self)
10. On the Monks Perfection ( and Penance)

Here begins the Rule for the Monks of Columbanus the Abbot.
First of all we are taught to love God with all our heart all our mind and all our strength our neighbor as ourselves: and then our works (the working out of loving God and neighbor in this case in context of the rule).

( ) parenthesis are my added explanation

Graphic: stain glass from the Bibbio Basilica

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