Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for July 11, 2009

March 11, July 11, November 10

Chapter 33: Whether Monks Ought to Have Anything of Their Own

This vice especially
is to be cut out of the monastery by the roots.
Let no one presume to give or receive anything
without the Abbot's leave,
or to have anything as his own --
anything whatever,
whether book or tablets or pen or whatever it may be --
since they are not permitted to have even their bodies or wills
at their own disposal;
but for all their necessities
let them look to the Father of the monastery.
And let it be unlawful to have anything
which the Abbot has not given or allowed.
Let all things be common to all,
as it is written (Acts 4:32),
and let no one say or assume that anything is his own.

But if anyone is caught indulging in this most wicked vice,
let him be admonished once and a second time.
If he fails to amend,
let him undergo punishment

Some Thoughts:

1st off, my apologies for sending nothing yesterday. My server was having Peculiarities which seem to have corrected themselves.

As I read this, I just know someone will object to this passage as too harsh. And so it is to 21st century eyes where we have all over-indulged in some way or the other and since all the advertising, friends and family find ways to justify it, it is very hard to give it a 2nd thought.

So I hope we will all strive to get past our "No way, Jose" reaction, we will regard this passage as if it were asking us a lot of questions about our own life and all the stuff we accumulate.

A little historical perspective: Previous to Benedict at one time the monastic idea for a monk's possessions was this. "A monk's garment should be such that it could lie outside the cell for 3 days and still no one would want it." The cell referred to is an outdoor hut in some wild place of the Roman Empire. So my reaction to this quote is EEEE YYYYEEEEWWWW

In contrast, the RB is moderate. The community provides the monastic with everything that is needed. Food, shelter, clothing is provided. They are to want for nothing that they need in their exercise of their talents and gifts. Of course, it is a challenge for us in the 21st century to distinguish between a want and a need. We are flooded with advertising messages that say "I want it. I need it" as if the very act of wanting creates a need.

The key to this passage is, I believe, this; "since they are not permitted to have even their bodies or wills ." When a Benedictine makes the promises of stability, obedience and conversion of life, that person has declared themselves to belong to God. The question becomes if we belong to God, what else do we need?

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