Sunday, November 11, 2007

Reading for March 12, July 12, November 11

Today's Reading from

March 12, July 12, November 11

Chapter 34: Whether All Should Receive in Equal Measure What Is Necessary

Let us follow the Scripture,
"Distribution was made to each
according as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35).
By this we do not mean that there should be respecting of persons
(which God forbid),
but consideration for infirmities.
She who needs less should thank God and not be discontented;
but she who needs more
should be humbled by the thought of her infirmity
rather than feeling important
on account of the kindness shown her.
Thus all the members will be at peace.

Above all, let not the evil of murmuring appear
for any reason whatsoever
in the least word or sign.
If anyone is caught at it,
let her be placed under very severe discipline.

Some thoughts:

Enough, but not too much. Little, but not too little. Let people have what they need but only what they need. Those with less need rejoice and those with more need be humbly grateful. It sounds like a great system, doesn't it? So why is it immediately followed by an admonition against murmuring?

Commentary by Sr. Joan Chittister

Destitution and deprivation are not monastic virtues. Benedict immediately follows the chapter on the pitfalls of private ownership with a chapter insisting that people be given what they need to get through life. Benedictine spirituality is not based on a military model of conformity. Pianists need pianos; writers need computers; principals need to go to meetings; administrators need to get away from the group every once in a while, workers need places to work, the sick need special kinds of food, people with bad backs need the proper kinds of beds. Benedictine spirituality says get them and don't notice the differences; get them and don't count the cost; get them and don't complain about it. Just thank God that your own needs have yet to reach the level of such a burden.

It's an important chapter in a world where poverty is clearly an evil and not to be spiritualized while the children of the earth die with bloated stomachs. The person whose spirituality is fed by the Rule of Benedict would be acutely concerned about that, painfully disturbed about that as was Benedict. The Benedictine spirit would not rest, in fact, until the imbalance was righted and the needs were met.

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