Monday, July 13, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for July 12, 2009

March 13, July 13, November 12

Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen

Let the brethren serve one another,
and let no one be excused from the kitchen service
except by reason of sickness
or occupation in some important work.
For this service brings increase of reward and of charity.
But let helpers be provided for the weak ones,
that they may not be distressed by this work;
and indeed let everyone have help,
as required by the size of the community
or the circumstances of the locality.
If the community is a large one,
the cellarer shall be excused from the kitchen service;
and so also those whose occupations are of greater utility,
as we said above.
Let the rest serve one another in charity.

The one who is ending his week of service
shall do the cleaning on Saturday.
He shall wash the towels
with which the brethren wipe their hands and feet;
and this server who is ending his week,
aided by the one who is about to begin,
shall wash the feet of all the brethren.
He shall return the utensils of his office to the cellarer
clean and in good condition,
and the cellarer in turn shall consign them to the incoming server,
in order that he may know
what he gives out and what he receives back.

Some Thoughts

When I think of the many arguments in my family about taking out the garbage, washing the windows and all the household chores that keep a home fit to live in, I sometimes think that if we had known of this section of the RB, maybe things would have been different.

I have no idea if this custom still obtains in Benedictine communities. Amma would be the one who knows. Or if we have any Oblates on the list. But I hope this custom still obtains because it emphasizes the egalitarian nature of the Benedictine community and the lack of rank. Oh, sure someone is excused due to important work and Benedict gives us no clue what sort of work would be deemed important. My guess, though, is that it would have to do with caring for someone else. Kardong in his Commentary says that it most likely means the monastic superior and the cellarer.

It is the idea of serving each other in charity, that people should have they help they need without begrudging, because it is is offered in love. Now, wouldn't that transform neighborhood? The service is of course emphasized with foot washing, recalling the night of the Last Supper when our Lord washed the feet of those gathered.

What are your reactions to this passage?

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