When Romuald was 20, he served as his father’s second in a duel that killed a relative. It was a traumatic event that led Romuald, in seeking penance, to spend 40 days in a Benedictine monastery then become a monk. At the dawn of the second millennium, he started a religious community of his own, encouraging both asceticism and small communities.
The “Brief Rule of St. Romuald” advised his hermits. In Latin, it’s just 100 words. Today, its eight recommendations feel strikingly modern, poetic and easily adaptable to daily life, like a Headspace app with history.
- Sit in your cell as in paradise.
- Put the whole world behind you and forget it.
- Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish.
- The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.
- If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.
- And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.
- Realize above all that you are in God's presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.
- Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.