Thursday, July 02, 2009

March 2, July 2, November 1

Chapter 25: On Weightier Faults

Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault
be excluded both from the table and from the oratory.
Let none of the brethren join him
either for company or for conversation.
Let him be alone at the work assigned him,
abiding in penitential sorrow
and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle
where he says that a man of that kind is handed over
for the destruction of the flesh,
that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5).
Let him take his meals alone
in the measure and at the hour
which the Abbot shall consider suitable for him.
He shall not be blessed by those who pass by,
nor shall the food that is given him be blessed

Some thoughts

Kardong writes in his definitive Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict that it must be kept in mind that Benedict is not talking about excommunication for grave sins, but for monastic faults. Please note that Benedict does not use "excommunication." Monastic faults would be unauthorized journeys; improper intimacies; open conflict.

It is so easy to look at such a passage and find all sorts of reasons to object to it. Benedict wrote during the Early Middle Ages and we read in post-modern days. In order to fully appreciate the RB, we must as much as possible set aside our post-moderinism. The way I suggest we do that is by looking for what is right in it. Looking for what one can agree with.

What I see here are 2 things. This passage talks about the well-being of the monastic community. The assumption Benedict makes is that if a person is truly called to this life, obedience to the Rule will take care of any individual needs. The second thing is related. Benedict gives the monastic the opportunity to repent. The monastic has to embrace personal responsibility. We read yesterday that the repentant one is welcomed into the full life of the community with open arms.



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