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St. Benedict on Daily Diet

Before any talk can begin about farming or gardening, we have to ask, “What shall we eat?” This question was answered by St. Benedict (Rule of St. Benedict, ch. 39):

“We think it sufficient for the daily dinner,
whether at the sixth (midday) or the ninth (midafternoon) hour,
that every table have two cooked dishes
on account of individual infirmities,
so that he who for some reason cannot eat of the one
may make his meal of the other
Therefore let two cooked dishes suffice for all the brethren;
and if any fruit or fresh vegetables are available,
let a third dish be added.
Let a good pound weight of bread suffice for the day,
whether there be only one meal or both dinner and supper.
If they are to have supper,
the cellarer shall reserve a third of that pound,
to be given them at supper.
But if it happens that the work was heavier,
it shall lie within the Abbot’s discretion and power,
should it be expedient,
to add something to the fare.
Above all things, however,
over-indulgence must be avoided
and a monk must never be overtaken by indigestion;
for there is nothing so opposed to the Christian character
as over-indulgence
according to Our Lord’s words,


“See to it that your hearts be not burdened
with over-indulgence”

Luke 21:34

Young boys shall not receive the same amount of food as their elders, but less;
and frugality shall be observed in all circumstances.
Except the sick who are very weak,
let all abstain entirely
from eating the flesh of four-footed animals
.”

Rule of St. Benedict, ch. 39

We can see how St. Benedict differs from almost anything anyone talks about when it comes to farming and gardening. The diet is simple (one meal a day), and bread-based. Meat from “four-footed animals” (beef, pork, goat, sheep, etc.) is abstained from.

The work that would be required to provide for such a live would be relative simple–and that’s the point. The Christian life is not on devoted to the indulgence of bodily desires, but one that recognizes the soul to be our defining part.

St. Benedict’s rule may be said to be intended for “monks” and “nuns”–and that’s true–but monks and nuns are simply adults seeking to follow Christ.

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