Saturday, August 08, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for August 8, 2009

April 8, August 8, December 8

Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

For bedding let this suffice:
a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.

The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
to see if any private property be found in them.
If anyone should be found to have something
that he did not receive from the Abbot,
let him undergo the most severe discipline.

And in order that this vice of private ownership
may be cut out by the roots,
the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
that all pretext of need may be taken away.
Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35).
In this manner, therefore,
let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
and not the ill-will of the envious.
But in all his decisions
let him think about the retribution of God.

Some thoughts:

Benedict continues to instruct his monks about private ownership. Which is that there should be no private ownership in the monastery. At the same time, the monks are to have every thing they need without stinting, taking into consideration personal issues. Compared to previous forms of Christian monasticism, Benedict is generous in a revolutionary manner. He does not see any benefit to deprivation, be it food, sleep, insufficient clothing or protection from the climate. His concern is that his monks have exactly what they need. No more, no less.

There is such a contrast here with the western world's view of possessions. So many of us believe that more is better. We have been fed such lies by all forms of media and even Presidential administrations to encourage us to buy buy buy. There is some TV commercial that moves without a pause from "I want it" to "I need it." As if the 2 were synonymous.

We of the west have somehow become so insulated that we no longer see the impact our choices have upon the rest of the world. Feeding our consumerism has led to global warming. Not the only contribution factor, but still a part. We fail to see how our choices take food from the hungry. Perhaps when we are tempted to buy things we want but do not need, we could instead consider giving that money to the poor.

And it is a temptation. There is possibly no more issue fraught with all sorts of baggage than our money. The Enemy has been quite successful with that.

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