Friday, August 28, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for August 28, 2009

April 28, August 28, December 28

Chapter 70: That No One Venture to Punish at Random

Every occasion of presumption
shall be avoided in the monastery,
and we decree that no one be allowed
to excommunicate or to strike any of her sisters
unless the Abbess has given her the authority.
Those who offend in this matter
shall be rebuked in the presence of all,
that the rest may have fear.

But children up to 15 years of age
shall be carefully controlled and watched by all,
yet this too with all moderation and discretion.
All, therefore, who presume
without the Abbess' instructions
to punish those above that age
or who lose their temper with them,
shall undergo the discipline of the Rule;
for it is written,
"Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself" (Tobias 4:16).

Some thoughts

"Every occasion of presumption shall be avoided in the monastery." I
am certain this is true, but presumption is to be avoided outside the
monastery also. How many times have we been guilty to presume to
know better than another? How many times have we been guilty of
correcting that person?

And what is the effect of our presumption? I can assure you it is not
what we wanted. We will not have set the record straight or corrected
the error. All we will have done is provided a cause for resentment
and rejection.

I can speak form personal experience. Maybe it is a result of my life
long struggle to control my depression, but I have deep desire to have
things right. I have this idea that if I do every thing right, if
everything goes right, if everyone else does right, then my depression
will not be triggered. Of course, if we did not live in a fallen,
sinful world, this would be true. But this consideration has not
stopped me from attempting to control my environment and often other
people in order to spare myself a depressive episode.

It never works. And I daresay that for all of us who are caught up in
any sort of self-righteousness, perfectionism, legalism, rigorism,
over-scrupulosity that it doesn't work for us either. And here's the
thing... Jesus doesn't call us to it and Benedict, following our
Lord's example, does not either. I am greatly comforted that Jesus
chose to hang out with the ordinary people, the morally compromised so
to speak. Who did God especially love in the Hebrew Scriptures but
the cads and scroundrels, adulterers and the like?

I have no idea how to develop the theology and I surely hope someone
has already done it, but I grow ever more convinced that what is
valuable to God is our weaknesses, not our strengths, where we fail,
not where we succeed.

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