Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for September 16, 2009

Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.

Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.

However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.

Some thoughts

Benedict's monastics do not live in a dictatorship or oligarchy. The monastic superior can make the final decision but it cannot be made without having first received the advice of the community. When the community is assembled for this purpose, a chapter meeting takes place.

Benet Tvedten writes in _A Share in the Kingdom: A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict for Oblates_ that there was a rime when chapter meetings were more formal than they are now. Each member, beginning with the most senior, took their turn expression their opinion briefly. He says today there is more opportunity for defending their views "obstinately." Anyone may speak repeatedly by simply raising a hand.

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