Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reading 03/19/08

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 19, July 19, November 18
Chapter 40: On the Measure of Drink

"Everyone has her own gift from God,
one in this way and another in that" (1 Cor. 7:7).
It is therefore with some misgiving
that we regulate the measure of others' sustenance.
Nevertheless, keeping in view the needs of the weak,
we believe that a hemina of wine a day is sufficient for each.
But those to whom God gives the strength to abstain
should know that they will receive a special reward.

If the circumstances of the place,
or the work
or the heat of summer
require a greater measure,
the superior shall use her judgment in the matter,
taking care always
that there be no occasion for surfeit or drunkenness.
We read
it is true,
that wine is by no means a drink for monastics;
but since the monastics of our day cannot be persuaded of this
let us at least agree to drink sparingly and not to satiety,
because "wine makes even the wise fall away" (Eccles. 19:2).

But where the circumstances of the place are such
that not even the measure prescribed above can be supplied,
but much less or none at all,
let those who live there bless God and not murmur.
Above all things do we give this admonition,
that they abstain from murmuring.

Some thoughts:

I hardly know where to begin. I've been rather ill for several days now. To be honest, I've been asleep for most of the past 2 1/2 weeks.

I daresay booze was as big a factor in life in Benedict's day as it is now. Was there anything comparable to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, I wonder, in an attempt to keep people from drunkeningly driving their wagons or chariots? I would read the warnings about drunkeness to mean that it was a problem back then.

Read somewhere that a hemina of wine is about 8 ozs. That seems to me to be rather a lot for anyone to drink on a daily basis. OTOH, we are being told today that a modest portion of any alcohol is actually heart healthy. In fact, there is evidence that light drinkers actually live longer than do those who do not imbibe at all. I think, though, that Benedict's postition ends up being the wisest: if one will drink, do it moderately.

I wonder too what occasioned him to add the bit about where "not even this amount or none at all". But the point is clear: thank God for what we do have and cease to complain about what we do not.

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