Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for June 30, 2009

February 29, June 30, October 30

Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults

(If there is no 29th of Feburary, append this entry to the previous.)

If a brother is found to be obstinate,
or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
If he fails to amend,
let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be placed under excommunication,
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
if he is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.

Some Thoughts

If previous experience with this passage on this list is similar to today's, the immediate reaction on the part of some readers will be to point out what is wrong with this passage.

Just for fun, instead let us look for what is right. Because whatever our post-modern reactions to this bit are, let me once again mention that compared to his rule writing predecessors, John Cassian, Rule of the Master, Benedict is gentle. After all, it's not as if we haven't read over and over again the strictures against murmuring, gossiping, complaining etc. And we read a chapter on obedience and humility. So we have had fair warning that St. Benedict is serious about the importance of these things.

What destroys community more quickly than dysfunctional behavior? All that murmurming and complaining to each other instead of addressing one's concerns with the person with whom one really has the issue is only going to cause division and factions. The health of the community is Benedict's concern here.

What do others find in this passage that rings true for them?

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