As a synonym of monasterium, which figures in the following phrase, the word scola makes the monastery the chief place where Christ teaches. The use of this term scola is laden with meaning. First of all, by means of it the monastery is connected to a word of the Gospel. Although neither the word monasterium nor even the idea of a monastery is found anywhere in the New Testament, indeed in the whole of Scripture, recourse to the word scola amounts to basing this new type of society on the word of God by making it seem like a response to the words of Christ, ‘Learn of me’.

Adalbert de Vogüé. The Rule of Saint Benedict. A Doctrinal and Spiritual Commentary.Kalamazoo, Michigan; Cistercian Publications, 1983. 17.

In a previous post we saw Father de Vogüé’s argument that Saint Benedict took over the Master’s commentary on the Psalms precisely because it ended with the intention to establish “a school of the Lord’s service.” For the Master, this imagery of a school is rooted in Christ’s appeal that he invokes in the parable of the Spring and which Benedict leaves out:

Take up my yoke upon you, and put yourself in my school, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light. (Mt 11: 28-30)

The Master sees this call as addressed to all human beings and thus monastic life appears as a prolongation of baptism. Moreover, he sees this call as containing two elements. In the first place, we are to turn away from sin – “Come to me … and I will refresh you” – which is identified with baptism. And in the second place, we are called to leave the world – “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me” – which is identified with the monastery.

The Master understands the burden of sin to which the Lord refers not as the weight of the law, but rather as “the torments and servitudes of sin.” (15) For those crushed by the consciousness of sin, the law of Christ represents a liberation. Thus he sees the contrast not so much as a contrast between Law and Gospel (as modern and even some patristic commentators do) but between sin and the renunciation of sin brought by baptism. This is in keeping with the logion of the two ways (Mt 7: 13-14) which the Master invokes in his Prologue.

This superficial antinomy between the ‘narrowness’ of the way and the ‘lightness’ of the burden resolves itself, if we with our author understand the second, not as the easiness of a rule that does not demand much, but of the interior liberation and relief procured by purity. Objectively the way is narrow, certainly, and Christ’s demands are formidable, but the deliverance from sin which is bought at this price gains the soul quiet, ease, and relief. The perspective opened by the Master is not very different from the views that Benedict was to expound in the final addition to his Prologue, when he spoke of the way of salvation, whose beginning seems narrow but whose sequel is only enthusiasm, love, and inexpressible sweetness. (15-16)

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