Friday, August 14, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for August 14, 2009

April 14, August 14, December 14

Chapter 60: On Priests Who May Wish to Live in the Monastery

If any ordained priest
should ask to be received into the monastery,
permission shall not be granted too readily.
But if he is quite persistent in his request,
let him know
that he will have to observe the whole discipline of the Rule
and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor,
that it may be as it is written:
"Friend, for what have you come (Matt. 26:50)?"

It shall be granted him, however, to stand next after the Abbot
and to give blessings and to celebrate Mass,
but only by order of the Abbot.
Without such order let him not make any exceptions for himself,
knowing that he is subject to the discipline of the Rule;
but rather let him give an example of humility to all.

If there happens to be question of an appointment
or of some business in the monastery,
let him expect the rank due him
according to the date of his entrance into the monastery,
and not the place granted him
out of reverence for the priesthood.

If any clerics, moved by the same desire,
should wish to join the monastery,
let them be placed in a middle rank.
But they too are to be admitted only if they promise
observance of the Rule and stability.

Some thoughts

The beginning of this section reminds me of some of the Sayings of the
Desert Christians and their distrust of priests. The Desert
Christians became the Desert Christian when Constantine proclaimed
Christianity to be the state religion of Rome. Hitherto, Christianity
and the world were at odds, the world was the realm of the devil and
Christians lived in it but did not participate in the things of the
world. A huge number of Christians were outraged that all of a sudden,
Christianity was identified with the world and in order to continue to
live holy lives, they fled civilization to live in the wild and
desolate places of Syria and Egypt. Priests, because of their
identification with the world, were suspect. By the time Benedict
wrote, priests were no longer considered identified as agents of the
sinful world. But I do see a reflection of the another concern of the
Desert Christians. So many priests were thought by the DC to be
prideful and ordination a sure road to one of the 7 deadly sins. If
you were wondering how they managed without priests to celebrate
Eucharist, the usual practice of the DC was the agape meal which did
not require a priest. And of course, those priests who lived the
discipline of the desert were allowed to celebrate.

Benedict's concern here is that the priest will submit to monastic
humility and discipline as evidenced by B's use of Mt 26:50. This is
the same question Jesus asked of Judas so the implication may be that
the priest who will not conform to the community will suffer Judas'
fate.Judas, after all, started with good intentions and ended
tragically. If this seems over the top, please not that in chap 62,
when we get there, Benedict calls a contentious pries a rebel.

So we see once again how egalitarian Benedict was. Whatever rank or
office one might hold outside the monastery, within the close one was
a monk, on equal footing with all the other monks.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home