July 11, 2008

(Restoration! Yes, but only to pose for a photograph!) SAINT BENEDICT, MONKS, SHARP OBJECTS, ALCOHOL

St. Benedict died on 21 March A.D. 547. Back in the sixth century, monks wore knives at the belt like everyone else. The knife was a multi-purpose tool for both eating and working. At some point during the one and a half millennia since the life of St. Benedict, monks discontinued the wearing of a knife.

How cool it would be if the Benedictine habit still included a knife at the belt! Make mine a Ka-Bar! Actually a short medieval dagger would be more in keeping with the habit.

Here’s what St. Benedict had to say about monks and knives.
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
.... And in order that this vice of private ownership may be cut out by the roots, the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles— hooded garment, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt, knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets— that all pretext of need may be taken away.

Chapter 22: How the Monks Should Sleep
.... Let them sleep clothed and girded with belts or cords, but not with their knives at their sides, lest they cut themselves in their sleep.

Whenever St. Benedict expressly prohibits or discourages something, I’m sure he does so because he finds it necessary. From experience.

Here’s something similar.
Chapter 40: On the Measure of Drink
.... We read it is true, that wine is by no means a drink for monks; but since the monks of our day cannot be persuaded of this let us at least agree to drink sparingly and not to satiety, because "wine makes even the wise fall away".

- - - -

More about the Clothing of Monks.
Click HERE for it.


Blogger beez said...

You know, Father, you spend enough time blogging, I don't know if we can handle Fr. Stephanos, ninja monk!

5:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The alcohol and knives together could be a dangerous combination. Although, I think wearing a knife is a good thing. My husband wears his "leatherman" continously. The knife comes in handy quite often. I think it would be cool to see a monk in his habit, with his great big knife at his side.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I know of a great Dominican priest (Fr Dominic Murphy, Australia) who carries around a utility knife in his habit. Of course, they follow the rule of St Augustine.

Visit www.australia.op.org/voc to see him (he's promoter of vocations for the province).

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Considering my feelings about the church Militant, relativism, and the modern culture...instead of a knife how about a ninja to or berhaps a nice scottish back sword, and a kevlar scapular?


8:13 PM  
Anonymous MM said...

cool, what kinda knife is that?

my bf has been "obsessing" to find a switchblade to use as a protection for him ha

9:42 PM  
Blogger Fr Ray Blake said...

"hooded garment, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt, knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets"

All this on a Swiss Army knife!

12:39 AM  
Blogger RobK said...

Now, I know that the Benedictines have provided the church with a multitude of good and joyful blessings. Not least of which is the creation of different alcohols. This is a blessing indeed when combined with St. Benedict's exhortation to moderation.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very Nice! If St. Benedict included it in what a Benedictine Monk should wear, I think you should listen--looks great.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

it's Ka-Bar's short version.

Fr. Blake--
My monastery happens to belong to the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation. The "grandmother" monastery for my monastery is Einsiedeln, Switzerland. Their novice master actually gives the newly professed monks a Swiss Army knife, since St. Benedict says monks ought to have a knife. However, the Einsiedeln monks don't wear the knife.

3:11 PM  
Blogger PlainCatholic said...

Just found your post on the KaBar and laughed. Were you perchance a Marine? My father was, and had the original KaBar knife.

Having been an Oblate for just shy of 30 years, I do read the Rule through frequently and must say I enjoy your take on that wee bitty section of it.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

I was never a Marine.

St. Benedict uses military terminology to describe the relationship between the monk and Christ. Monk as soldier serving the cause of Christ the King.

The northern border of our monastery's land is on the southern border of USMC Camp Pendleton.

Semper fidelis. Like good monks ought to be.

8:52 AM  

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