Saturday, April 29, 2017
Every occasion for presumptuous behaviour in a monastery must be avoided, so we insist that no one in the community may excommunicate or strike another unless given the power to do so by the superior. (From Ch. 70 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Presumptuous behavior, it seems to me, is the opposite of true authority. The first, motivated by the ego, drives me to assume power over others. The second, motivated by the Spirit, allows me to act lovingly in the best interest of others.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Chapter 69: No one should act as advocate for another
Such a thing must not happen in the monastery because it would provide a very serious occasion of scandal. (From Ch. 69 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
I think St. Benedict is telling me that self-interest, even when it appears to be service to another, creates division. My responsibility to community is to allow the life of Christ to act within and among us.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Chapter 68: The response to orders that seem impossible
If the superior after listening to this submission still insists on the original command, then the junior must accept that it is the right thing and with loving confidence in the help of God obey. (From Ch. 68 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Christ blesses me with those who challenge my perception of my limitations. In this way, what I might dismiss as mere weakness, becomes, through deep listening, my "growing edge".
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Chapter 67: Those sent on a journey
Those who are sent on a journey should commend themselves to the prayers of all the community as well as of the superior, and, at the last prayer of the work of God in the oratory, there should always be a momento of all who may be absent. (From Ch. 67 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Sometimes my journeys are the undesirable ones of wandering away from life-giving routine, from loving spiritual discipline, from my place in community, from openness to reality rather than to fantasy. But the "momento" of my true identity in Christ is to remember, to return, to re-begin saying the mantra.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Chapter 66: The porter or portress of the monastery
At the entrance to the monastery there should be a wise senior who is too mature in stability to think of wandering about and who can deal with enquiries and give whatever help is required. (From para. 1 of Ch. 66 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
For me, an inner emotional stability is a fruit of meditation -- or, at least, I'm coming closer in my experience of it. How do I react to difficult people or situations? -- what time do I waste in embellishing personal dramas? -- or, do I place my impulse to repeat an unhealthy pattern at the feet of Christ?
Monday, April 24, 2017
Chapter 65: The prior or prioress of the monastery (paragraphs 2-3)
We have no doubt, therefore, that it is best in the interests of preserving peace and charity that the authority for the whole administration of the monastery should rest with the abbot or abbess. (From para. 2 of ;Ch. 65 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
St. Benedict urges me to understand that peace and charity reign when Christ in my heart is the head of my household.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Chapter 65: The prior or prioress of the monastery (paragraph 1)
There have been instances when some of these officials have conceived out of an evil spirit of self-importance that they also are superiors and for that reasons have assumed the powers of a tyrant, so that they encourage scandalous divisions in the community. (From para. 1 of Ch. 65 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
St. Benedict teaches me that self-importance is a tyrant that ruins both inner and outer harmony. Self-importance, it seems to me, is the opposite of true self-knowledge, of knowing myself in relation to my divine source.