The Rule of St. Benedict Compared with the Rule of the Templars

The Primitive Rule of the Templars had as a model the Rule of St. Benedict, influenced greatly by the reformed Cistercian version, and from this base developed their own distinct code of military, spiritual, and everyday life. As a result, the Benedictine and Templar Rules bear considerable similarities.
Both the Templars and Benedictines prescribe leaders expecting complete obedience and in turn showing kindness, mercy, and fatherly care. To govern successfully, these men should seek counsel and appoint able subordinates. Elections allow the orders to choose the most capable brothers to be the head. Both rules also create similar initiation processes, vows and duties, restrictions, and prayer procedures for the brethren. (...)

While the Abbot and Master stand atop their communities as representatives of Christ, both Rules highly recommend the usage of counsels to deal with problems. In this way, the leader can weigh several wise options and use his final judgement to resolve whatever is at hand. He is urged by the [Benedictine] Rule to take the advice of the brethren before taking policy decisions. Chapter 3 of Benedictine Rule illustrates the value of consulting the entire community on an important matter. Old and young hold equal weight, and should offer calm, helpful advice without getting too opinionated adamant. In lesser affairs, the Abbot need only consult senior brothers for advice. (...)

Besides leaders, Templar and Benedictine brothers both follow comparable codes of life in accordance with their respective Rules, excluding the former's taking up of arms to wage physical battle against God's enemies. They take similar vows, must avoid similar transgressions, and dedicate good portions of their time to humble prayer and reflection. Secular knights enter the Templar ranks, but must change their livelihood to a one of discipline, purity, and hard work, placing aside the superficialities and temptations of secular life for the service of the Lord; they arm themselves not with gold, but inside with faith. The Templars follow virtues and ideals espoused by the Benedictine Rule from which their own Rule borrowed greatly. (...)

From leadership to the responsibilities and prayer methods of the brethren, the Rule of the Templars contains strong parallels to the Benedictine Rule. Though the military aspects of the Templars turned them into an international, wealthy powerhouse, their code of life in theory never lost traces of St. Benedict's influence. Though the Benedictine and Templar Rules were not followed to the letter throughout history, their messages are timeless. Benedict's Rule carries weight today, not only adapted by orders such as the Cistercians, but valuable to anyone seeking a life of piety and simplicity. Equally immortal are the Templars, who stand tall in history as "lions of war and lambs at the hearth; rough knights on the battlefield, pious monks in the chapel; formidable to the enemies of Christ, gentleness itself to His friends.

This blog quotes from an essay by Steven Grobschmidt which grew out of a paper written for an undergraduate course on the Crusades, published in full on Copyright (C) 1997, Steven Grobschmidt.

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