Born in 1924, Adalbert de Vogüé became a monk of the Abbaye Ste-Marie de La Pierre-qui-Vire in 1944. Receiving his doctorate in theology in Paris in 1959, he studied Patristics and ancient monasticism at the monastery as well as at the College of Saint Anselm in Rome. Since 1974, he has lived in a hermitage close to his monastery, devoting himself to the study of monastic history.
This is from the introductory note 'To Novices' in his book, Reading St Benedict: Reflections on the Rule, trans. Colette Friedlander, OCSO (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1994), p. 15. Although the infallible Adalbert de Vogüé is writing specifically about St Benedict's Rule, the statement, 'In an ancient text like this', alerts us that much of what he has to say can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to any of the old books.
In conclusion, I would like to wish you the grace of patiently reading the Rule. Not all of it is interesting at first glance. In an ancient text like this, many things apparently mean nothing to us. We must learn to wait, to pay attention to what we have trouble understanding, to come to grasp a language and concerns which are not ours. You will notice that this commentary makes little distinction between what we find meaningful today and the rest. It assumes that everything is interesting provided we are capable of taking an interest in it. We must leave ourselves behind and listen to another's voice if we are to receive something. In return for this attentive, patient, and respectful openness, the Rule, like the Gospel from which it derives, will be for you what it has been for so many monks and nuns to this day: a treasure as new as it is old.