Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for September 10, 2009

January 10, May 11, September 10

Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

Let the Abbess always bear in mind
that at the dread Judgment of God
there will be an examination of these two matters:
her teaching and the obedience of her disciples.
And let the Abbess be sure
that any lack of profit
the master of the house may find in the sheep
will be laid to the blame of the shepherd.
On the other hand,
if the shepherd has bestowed all her pastoral diligence
on a restless, unruly flock
and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior,
then she will be acquitted at the Lord's Judgment
and may say to the Lord with the Prophet:
"I have not concealed Your justice within my heart;
Your truth and Your salvation I have declared" (Ps. 39[40]:11).
"But they have despised and rejected me" (Is. 1:2; Ezech. 20:27).
And then finally let death itself, irresistible,
punish those disobedient sheep under her charge.

Some thoughts;

In dealing with the monks, Benedict suggests that the abbot adopt himself to circumstances and characters. A monastery will thrive if it is ruled by a reasonable abbot. Monastic history is full of examples of what did or did not happen under administration of abbots.

I confess, I don't care for the physical punishment of recalcitrant monks. I have to keep reminding myself that up until very very recently physical punishment did take place. And there are parts of the world where it is still being used.

The role of father is only 1 of several that Benedict expects the abbot to fill. The abbot is also judge, master, servant, shepherd, steward, teach and physician. In all these functions the abbot is encouraged to be Christ-like.

The abbot will be judged not only by what he has taught but by how well the monks respond to his teaching. He will have to give an accounting on judgement day. Fortunately for the abbot, Benedict assures him of an acquittal if it has been proved that the monks paid no attention to him. Sometimes parents blame themselves for the way their children turn out. Benedict says don't do that. If you have really tried, you can't be blamed.

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