Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for June 12, 2009

March 12, July 12, November 11

Chapter 34: Whether All Should Receive in Equal Measure What Is Necessary

Let us follow the Scripture,
"Distribution was made to each
according as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35).
By this we do not mean that there should be respecting of persons
(which God forbid),
but consideration for infirmities.
She who needs less should thank God and not be discontented;
but she who needs more
should be humbled by the thought of her infirmity
rather than feeling important
on account of the kindness shown her.
Thus all the members will be at peace.

Above all, let not the evil of murmuring appear
for any reason whatsoever
in the least word or sign.
If anyone is caught at it,
let her be placed under very severe discipline.

Some Thoughts:

There is a principle here I like very much. Not only are the monastics to be given what they need to survive, they are also being given what they need to thrive.

Seems to me we could also apply this to our own personal giving and receiving. An example: at the annual meeting of my parish, every year, I see people stand up to justify why they had to reduce their pledge. And yet every time I see them outside of the church, they always have the largest size Starbucks and are talking about what they watched last night on a premium cable TV station. For those who don't live in the USA, it is extremely difficult to receive any TV stations unless one has cable TV. There are a few levels of service, premium being the highest and most expensive level.

I've always been puzzled by their claims that they need the money for their families, and yet surely the largest size Starbucks and the premium cable TV stations are luxuries, wants not needs. It puzzles me when these same people are outraged at budget cuts in the church budget or when we had to lay off our Director of Christian Education. A few years ago I was fascinated by the results of a study done of Episcopalians in the USA. It found out that if the 2 million or so Episcopalians were to tithe that 10% TEC alone would have the financial ability to end world poverty. Isn't that a kick in the head? Doesn't that put some perspective? And i bet if every Christian in the world were to tithe that 10%, we would have enough funds to put a 100% halt on the trafficking of human flesh, provide farmers with incentives to grow food instead of drugs, end crime and maybe even achieve world peace. Ok, yes, I am dreamer and an idealist.

The headlines in the news here in San Diego is that all the banks in California refuse to accept the States IOUs they are issuing instead of paychecks, payment for bills, etc. Can you imagine the repercussions?

Being a very poor person, my health care is a combination of Medi-Cal ( California's version of the federal program, Medicaid) and Medicare (the health care offered by Social Security). I received a notice this past week that due to the state's budget problems, Medi-Cal will no longer pay for a bunch of things, among them new glasses and podiatry services. So this one is more than a bit personal to me. I am diabetic and my vision changes year to year and I need new lenses. Which require new frames, usually. I try to recycle my old frames but the optician always tells me they are too old to be re-used. If I can't get new glasses, I soon will be unable to see well enough to drive which means i will be unable to care for my mother.

And as for foot care... well, haven't we all heard horror stories about diabetic neuropathy and amputation. Not that my feet are in danger now, but the side effects of diabetes get worse as one ages.

The State has already raised the state sales tax, a move which like the cutbacks to Medi-Cal, hurt the poor of CA the most. The Governor will not raise income taxes. So it is the poor who is supplying the finds for the new budget, not the wealthy.

I am sorry for bringing politics and money into this discussion, but politics and money are every bit as spiritual as prayer. The question is this: which spirit prevails as we make our political and financial decisions? Which spirit prevails when we spend $50 a week at Starbucks? Or $250 a month on TV channels? Which spirit prevails when the poor are made to become poorer? Which spirit prevails when a man, desperate to feed his starving family, steals food and is shot by the police?

Personally, I have been blessed by 2 members of this list who have given me used computers in times of need so I could continue to be in touch with cyberspace. They are also on other of my lists and I can only pray that my ministry through these lists, such as they are, are some sort of recompense for their generosity. I believe deeply in reciprocity.

Benedict says that those who need less should be contented with less and those who need more should be humbled by the generosity of others. Those who need less directly contribute to the ability of those who need more not only to survive but to thrive.

What ways can you think of that members of this list who need less could contribute to thriving of those who need more?

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