Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reading for Dec 26, 2007

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 26, August 26, December 26
Chapter 68: If a Sister Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things

If it happens
that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a sister,
let her nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority
with all meekness and obedience.
But if she sees that the weight of the burden
altogether exceeds the limit of her strength,
let her submit the reasons for her inability
to the one who is over her
in a quiet way and at an opportune time,
without pride, resistance, or contradiction.
And if after these representations
the Superior still persists in her decision and command,
let the subject know that this is for her good,
and let her obey out of love,
trusting in the help of God.

Some Thoughts

Something that always surprises me when I read this bit is that deals solely with the monastic's physical abilities. There is no provision for a monastic's possible crisis of conscience. We are very fond of holding out in case of a conscience problem. People pick and choose among the tenets of Christian faith citing their conscience. Obviously, Benedict doesn't plan for the possibility that the monastic would ever be asked to do something that went against the conscience.

The monastery is a school for the Lord, as Benedict writes in an earlier chapter. The Christians who enter therein are presupposed to be thought willing to submit to all God has laid out in Scripture. The Rule is, after all, 95% Scripture. No picking and choosing among aspects of the Christian faith. One embraces it all.

Are we as willing as St. Benedict's monks to embrace it all?

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

An old Jewish proverb teaches, "When you have no choice, don't be afraid." A modern saying argues, "There's no way out but through." The straight and simple truth is that there are some things in life that must be done, even when we don't want to do them, even when we believe we can't do them. Is the rule cruel on this point? Not if there is any truth in experience at all. The reality is that we are often incapable of assessing our own limits, our real talents, our true strength, our necessary ordeals. If parents and teachers and employers and counselors and prioresses somewhere hadn't insisted, we would never have gone to college or stayed at the party or tried the work or met the person or begun the project that, eventually, changed our lives and made us more than we ever knew ourselves to be. Benedict understood clearly that the function of leadership is to call us beyond ourselves, to stretch us to our limits, to turn the clay into breathless beauty. But, first, of course, we have to allow it to happen.

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