Monastic life then appears as the natural development of the being who is ‘renewed’ by baptism and as the normal existence of the ‘risen’. It tends to conform the sons of God to him whose image they bear from their ‘rebirth’, and whom they dare henceforth to call ‘Father’. Consequently it consists in submitting to the divine law, and more precisely to the ‘Christian law’, the Lord’s commandments. In addition, since our reparation has been obtained by the cross of Christ, we can complete it only by sharing in his passion. Only the sharing of his sufferings will make us co-heirs of his glory.

Adalbert de Vogüé. The Rule of Saint Benedict. A Doctrinal and Spiritual Commentary. Kalamazoo, Michigan; Cistercian Publications, 1983. 18.

Having showed that The Rule of the Master uses the category of scola to connect the monastery to the Gospel so that one enters it in order to place oneself under Christ’s tutelage, Father de Vogüé proceeds to outline the Master’s perspective on monasticism’s intimate connection to baptism. Indeed, he does not seem to make much distinction monks and other Christians or – at least in places – to envisage the possibility of non-monastic Christians. The monastery simply forms the bridge between baptism and the Kingdom.

This sort of convertibility between monasticism and Christianity explains the at first sight the astonishing simplicity and indetermination of the long invitation to monastic life which forms the last part of the Thema. In order to move his reader along to his monastic ‘school’, the Master finds nothing to offer him but the prospect of the eternal ‘life’ and ‘repose’ which are proposed to every Christian. …

The scola of the monastery therefore plays in the Master’s thought a mediating role between the baptismal spring and the fulfilment of the kingdom. It allows passage from one to the other. After having been ‘re-created’ by the sacrament, one must ‘place oneself in the school’ of Christ in order to arrive at the ultimate ‘repose’ which he has promised. …

Thus the Christian or the monk – it is all one – is in a dubious position. Already the son of God, of the Church, and of the christian law, he remains nevertheless a son of folly, incapable of directing himself and subject to the fatal illusions of his self-will. The exact purpose of the monastery is to procure for him the sure direction which he cannot do without, while awaiting the day when alone he will perhaps be able to keep himself from sin, with the help of God. (18-19)

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