Prayers, please for the continuing recovery of Johanna after eye
surgery and Fr. Robert of Spencer, doing nicely after heart surgery
and deeply thankful to all for their prayers. Prayers also for Mary
of Cape Cod, who accidentally backed over her own dog, killing it and
is understandably distraught, for Richard, lung cancer, and for
Christina, pulmonary embolism, and Adrian, going for right leg
surgery on Tuesday and facing a three month convalescence. God's will
is best! Thanks! NRN JL
February 27, June 28, October 28
Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery
If the community is a large one,
let there be chosen out of it
brethren of good repute and holy life,
and let them be appointed deans.
These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,
observing the commandments of God
and the instructions of their Abbot.
Let men of such character be chosen deans
that the Abbot may with confidence
share his burdens among them.
Let them be chosen not by rank
but according to their worthiness of life
and the wisdom of their doctrine.
If any of these deans should become inflated with pride
and found deserving of censure,
let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time.
If he will not amend,
then let him be deposed
and another be put in his place who is worthy of it.
And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.
Did anyone read this as I did at first, many years ago, and
wonder: "Why did St. Benedict give them an academic name
like "deans"? Well, it was probably the other way around! Since the
first schools were monastic ones, it is quite likely that the
term "dean" entered academia via the Holy Rule! Surely the academic
gown of today is a modified form of our Benedictine choir robe, the
cowl or cuculla. In fact, Benedictines used to wear their cucullas
with the appropriate academic hoods as their formal dress at
graduations and the like. With all dues respect to the johnny-come-
latelies like the Dominicans, Franciscans and Jesuits, when they don
full academic regalia, they're wearing a derived form of our choir
But, enough of trivia...This chapter repeats another important
consideration in St. Benedict's plan: people are not to be
overburdened. This theme is less noticeable than the more important
ones of moderation and the like, but it is there. Again and again,
the Holy Rule says that people should have help with their charges,
certain officials should even be exempted from serving in the
Two things are going on here, both very important. Surely the first
is kindness, gentle consideration for human frailty. The second,
however, is every bit as defining and important: we are not our work,
we are not our jobs, our vocation and worth is only connected to such
things tangentially at best. Our motto is Work AND Prayer. The
message is that neither of these should make the other impossible.
This message is equally important for both choir monastics and
Oblates. If your work is so much that your prayer suffers, something
is wrong. However, especially true for those of us in the secular
world, if your prayer is so much that your job or children or
marriage suffers, something is REALLY wrong. If your work deprives
your family or spouse, it might be time to look at changing it, time
to rearrange goals and priorities a bit.
One of the occasional problems of modern life everywhere is not just
that we are too busy, but that we FOCUS too much attachment and will
on stuff that really doesn't matter. Change that focus. Picture your
job today if you had died yesterday. The important stuff would still
get done by someone else. The rest, your own agenda, would go merrily
down the tubes. Well, learn from that! A LOT of our own agendas are
worth little more than that: going down the tubes. So why waste so
much time and spiritual and emotional energy on them? As it does so
frequently, the Holy Rule and Benedictine life tell us: "Get real!"
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery