Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reading for Dec 27, 2007

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 27, August 27, December 27
Chapter 69: That the Monks Presume Not to Defend One Another

Care must be taken that no monk presume on any ground
to defend another monk in the monastery,
or as it were to take him under his protection,
even though they be united by some tie of blood-relationship.
Let not the monks dare to do this in any way whatsoever,
because it may give rise to most serious scandals.
But if anyone breaks this rule,
let him be severely punished.

Some Thoughts

The other day I babbled a bit about "custody of the senses", the ultimate in minding one's own business. It is helpful for me to view this somewhat problematic passages (for me at least!) as minding my own business. Just think of all the gossip and scandals in our church communities that occur because we would not concentrate on minding our own business.

I also see in this section a challenge to all the dysfunctional patterns that can turn relationships toxic. Such as triangulation... this occurs when instead of speaking to Person B directly, Person A instead talks to Person C, telling C what they ought to be saying to B. C then tells B what A said, B tells A off via C and the next thing we know, it's a mess of miscommunication, misunderstanding and no one getting the facts straight.

We are in the school of the Lord, maybe that is where we should focus our attention.

end of Sister Gloriamarie's thoughts, such as they are.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

"Stay away from your enemies but guard yourself against friends," Ben Sirach wrote in Ecclesiasticus. The rule knows that false friendship is bad for the person and bad for the community as well. In a life dedicated to spiritual growth and direction, there is no room for multiple masters. Friends who protect us from our need to grow are not friends at all. People who allow a personal agenda, our need to be right or their need to shield, block the achievement of a broader vision in us and betray us. Supporters who risk dividing a group into factions over personal tensions rather than to allow individuals to work their way positively through the hard points of life, barter the spirit and peace of the whole community. We are taught in the Rule not to take sides in issues of personal interpretation and spiritual challenge. We are to hold one another up during hard times, Chapter 27 indicates, but we are not to turn personal difficulty into public warfare. The groups that would be better off if individuals had refused to turn differences of opinion into moral irreconciliables are legion. The Desert Monastics say that one of the disciples asked Abba Sisoes one day, "If I am sitting in the desert and a barbarian comes to kill me and if I am stronger than he, shall I kill him?" The old man said to him, 'No, leave him to God. In fact whatever the trial is which comes to a person, let them say,"This has happened to me because of my sins," and if something good comes say, "This has happened to me because of the providence of God."

Life is not perfect; some of life just is. A great deal of mental, psychological and spiritual health comes from learning to endure the average heat of the average day and to wear both its banes and its blessings with a tempered heart. No warfare. No armies mobilized on the plain. No identification of enemies. Just life.

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