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2438Holy Rule for Oct. 31

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    Oct 30, 2008

      Payers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

      Pat who was admitted to the hospital yesterday at 2 PM. She is suffering from as yet undiagnosed physical attacks. Please hold her and her husband, who is also ailing and worried beyond belief, up in your daily prayers.

      Nick, Crisis response was at his apartment last night and was trying to convince him to
      go to the hospital. His Dad was a suicide and his Mom has been very
      distraught as he has not been eating or getting out of bed at all. He is 19
      and off his meds.

      Deo gratias, Tom's cancer tests came back negative.

      Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

      March 1, July 1, October 31
      Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be

      The measure of excommunication or of chastisement should correspond
      to the degree of fault, which degree is estimated by the judgment
      of the Abbess.

      If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults, let her be excluded
      from the common table. Now the program for one deprived of the
      company of the table shall be as follows: In the oratory she shall
      intone neither Psalm nor antiphon nor shall she recite a lesson
      until she has made satisfaction; in the refectory she shall take
      her food alone after the community meal,
      so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance, that sister
      shall eat at the ninth, while if they eat at the ninth hour she
      shall eat in the evening, until by a suitable satisfaction she
      obtains pardon.


      Let's face it, St. Benedict has a lot to say about excommunication-
      a clumsy term, perhaps, because people often assume it means
      excommunication from the Church, which is the only sense of the
      word we commonly have today. It does not, of course mean that, just
      a punishment of exclusion from certain community functions.

      Let's face something else, at least in this chapter. Fasting an
      extra three hours might not be lovely, but no intoning in choir?
      What bad news! Gosh... Even many of us who CAN sing would look at
      that as a nice break!

      And eating alone? Well, the extra fast wasn't great, but I sure
      missed that droning reader and the tedious book we've been reading.
      What awful luck!

      See the difference in perception a millennium or so can make? That
      may be a large part of why the penal code is not followed today:
      some of its punishments simply make little sense to modern
      monastics, some seem mean, and others (as above,) seem like
      downright vacations.

      The rest of this applies with great ease to family situations,
      marital situations and the workplace. Something must be gleaned
      from all this legislation for punishment: the one at fault must be
      told when something is wrong. That, after all, is the only reason
      for punishment, to be a wake up call.

      Unfortunately, the monastic hatred of personal confrontation
      endemic in our ranks assumes (because it is easiest to do so,)
      sufficient brilliance for all to sooner or later figure out that
      they are amiss. It just ain't so, folks, sorry! Things fester when
      they go ignored
      for years. Things that someone should have dealt with gently, but
      firmly and even summarily, in formation or childhood, torture the
      family in later years.

      Look, it is hard, VERY hard, to confront a predictably stubborn or
      difficult child or monastic or spouse or employee on a bad day.
      It's easy to see why one would rather not do so. But the Holy Rule
      asks many things that are difficult of us, and this one is
      for the good of all, both the offender and the offended.

      Please take very careful note, however, of the gentleness and real
      concern that is essential if such confrontations are to succeed.
      Explosive, violent tactics, harsh words and actions at the first
      hint of trouble are not the monastic way. There is charity, always
      charity first. If we
      cannot be sure of that selfless love in ourselves, we would
      sometimes do far better
      to remain silent.

      We must avoid the false charity, (really just cowardice in polite
      drag,) that omits making these difficult corrections. It goes a
      long way to making everyone's life hellish in the future. Sometimes
      that false charity can also be hatred or violence or revenge in
      pious disguise, and that is equally terrible, and also goes along
      way to making others miserable.

      Also, in workplace especially, bear in mind that the authority
      figure here is the abbot, not the rank and file. One dare not
      assume all those prerogatives as a peer and equal. Fraternal
      correction will get a chapter of its own later on, but it is not a
      mantle to be assumed lightly. We must beware of the other extreme:
      becoming universal policing agents for all and sundry. A tiny spark
      of Gestapo flickers in many of our all too human hearts. Do nothing
      to fan the flame!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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