Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for September 9, 2009

January 9, May 10, September 9
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
should always remember what she is called,
and live up to the name of Superior.
For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
being called by a name of His,
which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
"You have received a Spirit of adoption ...,
by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!

Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
anything which is against the Lord's precepts;
on the contrary,
her commands and her teaching
should be a leaven of divine justice
kneaded into the minds of her disciples.

Some thoughts:

Chapter 2 of the RB is clearly a guide to parenting. "Abbot" means "father; "abbess" means "mother." It is fair to call the Benedictine life in the monastery as familial. In his book, _A Share in the Kingdom: A Commentary on the Rule of St Benedict for Oblates_, Benet Tvedten talks of some passe customs such as kissing the abbot's ring or kneeling after entering the abbot's office. He says these were some medieval customs which have since been dropped. But even so, the abbot is not "one of the boys", so to speak. Tvedten says "he is the father of sons who are adults and who want to be treated as adults." Tvedten calls this fatherhood an absolute essential to monastic life.

Well, the qualities of the monastic superior are no different from those required in parenting. No Christian parent should ever "teach or ordain or command anything which is against the Lord's precepts." Both the monastic family and the nuclear family use a twofold manner of teaching: words and good examples.

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