Friday, December 19, 2014

Chapter 63: Community order (paragraph 1)


So, apart from those whom the superior has promoted for a more cogent reason or demoted for specific faults, all the others retain the order of their conversion to monastic life so exactly that one who arrived at the monastery door at the second hour must accept a place junior to another who came an hour earlier, whatever their age or former rank may have been. (From para. 1 of Ch. 3 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Order in a community or a family or even my daily life derives from conversion -- turning towards a discipline of seeing God in all things, in all relationships, and  finding stability in Christ  -- in the midst of all that disrupts order.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chapter 62: The priests of the monastery


When ordained a monk must be careful to avoid a spirit of self-importance or pride and he must avoid taking on himself any duties to which the abbot has not assigned him. (From para.1 of Ch. 62 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

The shadow side of having spiritual gifts is my taking pride in them and manufacturing a sense of feeling special. The beauty of the gifts comes in using them as God leads me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chapter 61: Monastic pilgrims from far away (paragraphs 2-3)


But if no such negative signs are apparent it may be right to go further and not wait for a request to be accepted into the community. It may even be right to persuade such a one to stay so that others may benefit and learn from such example. (From paragraph 2 of Ch. 61 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry,OSB.)

My life is silently clamoring to expand into more and more relationships, in order to find the best in others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chapter 61: Monastic pilgrims from far away (paragraphs 1-2)


If, on the other hand, such a pilgrim monk or nun has been revealed as a guest to be overbearing and full of bad habits then not only should all further association with the community be refused but such a guest should quite openly be requested to depart for fear that such a wretched example might lead others to go astray. (From para. 2 of Ch. 61 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Even in personal situations of necessary separation, I still ask for the grace to discern why such persons were sent to me by the Lord. Such experiences are not a waste.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chapter 60: The admission of priests into the monastery


An ordained priest who asks to be received into the monastery should not be accepted too quickly. (From  para. 1 of Ch. 60 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB.)

If I head into a community thinking I have superior gifts and no need for humility, I become a threat to the community. I think that transformative relationships abolish hierarchy for hierarchy's sake.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chapter 59: Children offered by nobles or poor


If parents who are from the nobility want to offer to God in the monastery one of their children, who is too young to take personal responsibility, they should draw up a document like that described above and, as they make the offering, wrap the document with the child's hand in the altar cloth. (From para. 1 of Ch. 59 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

It's hard for me to identify offering a child of mine to the monastery, but the mystery is that everything in my life is to be offered to God. There's something achingly tender for me in the image of wrapping the document with the child's hand in the altar cloth. I see in it an image of selflessness, purity, and wholeness.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chapter 58: The reception of candidates for the community (paragraphs 4-5)


When the decision is made that novices are to be accepted, then they come before the whole community in the oratory to make solemn promise of stability, fidelity to monastic life and obedience.  (From para. 4 of Ch. 58 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

These precepts, as they apply to my life, are tools of self-knowledge. They remind me that I'm not called to be perfect, but that I am called to be faithful.