1Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor and well as for prayerful reading.What's interesting is how, here and throughout the chapter, Benedict describes reading as work, as a way to fend off idleness. Reading is considered to be a spiritual discipline. Benedict says that "the brothers ought to devote themselves to reading." Later Benedict connects reading to the observance of Lent:
15During this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through.To make sure the monks are doing their reading: "Two seniors must surely be deputed to make the rounds of the monastery while the brothers are reading. Their duty is to see that no brother is so apathetic as to waste time or engage in idle talk to neglect his reading..."
As a reader all I can say is A--freaking--men. Reading is work.
Personal pet peeve in this regard. To non-readers reading looks like idleness and not work. If you are reading you aren't doing anything. You're "just reading." This drives me crazy. For example, when people see you reading they feel free to interrupt you. Why? Because you're not doing anything, you're just reading.
But excuse me, reading is doing something. So when I'm reading you should leave me alone. I'm working here. Ask St. Benedict.