A sonnet for St. Benedict


On July the 11th the Church celebrates the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, the gentle founder of the Benedictine order and by extension the father of Monasticism. A moderate and modest man he would have been astonished to learn that his ‘simple school for prayer’, his ‘modest rule for beginners’ led to the foundation of communities which kept the Christian flame alight through dark ages, preserved not only Christian faith, scripture, and culture,but also the best of Classical Pagan learning and culture, fed the poor, transformed societies, promoted learning and scholarship, and today provides solace, grounding, perspective and retreat not only to monks and nuns but to millions of lay people around the world.
Here is my sonnet for Benedict, drawing largely on phrases from the Rule, I dedicate it to the sisters at Turvey Abbey. It will appear in my next book with Canterbury Press, The Singing Bowl

As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title.


You sought to start a simple school of prayer,
A modest, gentle, moderate attempt,
With nothing made too harsh or hard to bear,
No treating or retreating with contempt,
A little rule, a small obedience
That sets aside, and tills the chosen ground,
Fruitful humility, chosen innocence,
A binding by which freedom might be found

You call us all to live, and see good days,
Centre in Christ and enter in his peace,
To seek his Way amidst our many ways,
Find blessedness in blessing, peace in praise,
To clear and keep for Love a sacred space
That we might be beginners in God’s grace.


Filed under imagination

13 responses to “A sonnet for St. Benedict

  1. We fall down, we get back up again. Thank you, Malcolm, for your simple, elegant, grace filled words for St. Benedict and his Rule. Peace be with you.

  2. The time I spent with the Benedictines is still bearing fruit in my life. Thank you for this sonnet, Malcolm. Elizabeth Winder Noyes ewnimages@gmail.com

  3. Hi Jane, Hope Bob is doing well. Thought you might like this poem by an English Anglican poet. Roseanne is being evaluated for a major surgery. Her sternum has a huge dent, and it turns out that her heart is not quite in the right place. The dent is compressing her broncial tubes, and lungs. We have our third meeting with the surgeon next Monday. The surgery involves a week in hospital, as they reconstruct the rib cage, and hopefully move the heart back in place. We would appreciate prayers for this process. Jen Gwo is recovering well.

  4. Michael Roeder


    This is a nice devotion – and sonnet – he reads it on the mp3 link. This guy is an Anglican priest in Cambridge but performed at Lamb’s Players 2 weeks ago.


  5. Malcolm, thank so much. It is such a privilege to have a poem dedicated to us. You capture the spirit of Benedict and the monastic quest so beautifully.
    Sr Miriam
    Turvey Abbey

  6. Gentle, encouraging words – a lovely sonnet and lovely dedication! Eileen, oblate and artist

  7. Thank you, Malcolm, for honouring Benedict today. I am reader at prayer this week and wondered what to read tonight and now have foudn it. Looking forward to your visit and workshop here in Septmeber.

  8. Pingback: Happy Feast of St Benedict! | the pocket scroll

  9. Cindy Hermit

    Everyday, as morning arises, as a beginner I thank God for His amazing grace. Just a thought!

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