Prayers, please, for a family that is breaking up. Wife and kids are
moving out and it is very, very tough for them right now. Thanks so
much! God's will be done! NRN JL
March 26, July 26, November 25
Chapter 46: On Those Who Fail in Any Other Matters
When anyone is engaged in any sort of work,
whether in the kitchen, in the cellar, in a shop,
in the bakery, in the garden, while working at some craft,
or in any other place,
and she commits some fault,
or breaks something, or loses something,
or transgresses in any other way whatsoever,
if she does not come immediately
before the Abbess and the community
of her own accord
to make satisfaction and confess her fault,
then when it becomes known through another,
let her be subjected to a more severe correction.
But if the sin-sickness of the soul is a hidden one,
let her reveal it only to the Abbess or to a spiritual mother,
who knows how to cure her own and others' wounds
without exposing them and making them public.
I can hear parents relating to this one! "When you break something,
why don't you tell me? Don't just hide the pieces and say nothing."
Well, truthfully, sometimes people may have been afraid to ask us
because of ways we have reacted before, but that's not always so. As
guest master, I can assure you that many adults have very adolescent
habits when it comes to breaking something, even though they have
never had any dealings with me on the matter before. Nothing is said,
the damage is hidden and I find out a lot later.
That's too bad, because I really like to give a monastic witness to
the value of people before things and a broken plate or glass or
toilet is a great way to do that. When people do come to me, always
apologetic, and often quite sheepish as well, I say something
like: "Oh, that's OK! We can always get another pitcher, but we can
never get another you! People before things!"
People before things. That is so crucial to remember, because all of
us have lived in a very materialist world. For people of our times,
some of the Holy Rule's insistence that we be careful of the earthly
goods of monastery or home must be carefully balanced. Otherwise, we
run into the trap of becoming monastic materialists, quite a
contradiction in terms, to say the least. Yes, we must be careful of
things, but we must always keep uppermost in our minds that the
greatest treasures or family or monastery or workplace are the
members themselves. If frugality becomes stinginess, if conservation
breaks charity, we are way, way off the mark.
There's another little gem here, right at the end. Not everyone in
the group needs to know all your details all the time, but letting no
one at all know is equally foolish. A balance must be obtained here,
as in all things. Knowing whom to tell what to is a delicate art of
paying very close attention to reality of the other person. Some
people may not be trustworthy, others may not profit from knowing for
other reasons, like distress or worry or even scandal. Weigh those
considerations very, very carefully.
Being HIV+ has given me a bit of experience in this last regard.
There are those, I know, who think it imprudent to be as candid as I
am about my antibody status. However, I choose the candor for very
valid reasons and I do not apply them in every situation, with every
person I meet. Can't do that. Wouldn't be good for them or for me.
Might be sometime, isn't just yet. This is very different thing from
being secretive or closety. I need- we all need- to weigh our
audience. That's mindfulness of others. Some weigh things far too
cautiously. My experience has shown me that, while being bold can be
scary, it also call forth things from people that neither I nor
sometimes they knew they had going for them! Sometimes our candor can
bring out the best in all of us, or at least in most of us, and those
are the times to forge ahead!
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery