It is said that the heart of the home is the kitchen table, and the same is true of the monastic home. Saint Benedict devoted ten chapters to the monastic table and to providing and serving food as well as necessities; inserted in the middle are chapters on the sick, the aged, and children. That arrangement makes it clear that the table is about care, not just discipline. Sister Aquinata Böckmann offers a thorough study of these core chapters in Benedict's Rule. Drawing on scholarship and personal experience of the monastic table, she demonstrates in this commentary the relationship between Benedict’s Rule and other rules, including those of Basil, Augustine, and the Rule of the Master. More than discipline, what comes through here is the focus on care for weaker members, practicality about work schedules and demands, and the overall desire to meet the needs of the brothers and sisters sharing life together.
Aquinata Böckmann, OSB, PhD, is a member of the Benedictine Missionary Sisters of Tutzing, Germany. She has taught in Rome since 1973 at the Pontifical Institute for Spirituality and Moral Theology Regina Mundi and as the first woman professor at Sant' Anselmo. She is the author of Perspectives on the Rule of Saint Benedict, also published by Liturgical Press.