Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for May 17, 2009

January 16, May 17, September 16

Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.

Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.

However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.

Perhaps it is time to remind Meres that if you would like commentary
on the day's portion of the RB, you will find it on this list's
website in the Files in the Folder "Commentaries". 2 of them are
complete: Sr. Joan Chittister's and Abbot Philip Lawrence. Br. Jerome
Leo's is still a work in progress.

Some thoughts

As I read this passage again this morning, I am struck by its
placement immediately after the chapter on the duties of the Abbot. I
am again reminded that I think the best way to read the Rule of St
Benedict is to read it through from beginning to end and then read it
bit by bit. After all one might choose to read Ch 2 to mean the Abbot
is a dictator. After all within approximately 500 years after
Benedict's death, we see Abbot as medieval land barons, feudal lords
with serfs. Nothing could have been farther from Benedict's thought.

We see here in Ch 3 that the monastery is to some extent
collaborative. Egalitarian. All have a voice which will be weighed
and considered. The manner in which the advice is offered and
received is as important as the opportunity to offer it. If not more
so. Something to think about in a society which often uses "You
haven't heard me" to mean if I repeat it often enough you will agree
with me.

Your thoughts, please?


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