4448Holy Rule for Jan. 13
- Jan 12, 2014+PAXPrayers for Sahrish, her family and her brother and his job.Prayers for Fr. Guy and his Oblate group in New Jersey, Brian, Chris and Peter. Father offers monthly meetings for Oblates of any house. If you are an isolated Oblate in the NJ area and want to attend, I can put you in touch with Fr. Guy.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
January 13, May 14, September 13
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
In her teaching
the Abbess should always follow the Apostle's formula:
"Reprove, entreat, rebuke" (2 Tim. 4:2);
threatening at one time and coaxing at another
as the occasion may require,
showing now the stern countenance of a mistress,
now the loving affection of a mother.
That is to say,
it is the undisciplined and restless
whom she must reprove rather sharply;
it is the obedient, meek and patient
whom she must entreat to advance in virtue;
while as for the negligent and disdainful,
these we charge her to rebuke and correct.
And let her not shut her eyes to the faults of offenders;
but, since she has the authority,
let her cut out those faults by the roots
as soon as they begin to appear,
remembering the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo (1 Kings 2-4).
The well-disposed and those of good understanding
let her correct with verbal admonition the first and second time.
But bold, hard, proud and disobedient characters
she should curb at the very beginning of their ill-doing
by stripes and other bodily punishments,
knowing that it is written,
"the fool is not corrected with words" (Prov. 18:2; 29:19),
"Beat your son with the rod,
and you will deliver his soul from death"(Prov. 23:13-14).
As our world grows more populated and less personalist, "One size
fits all" becomes a favorite chant of marketing. We all know that's
usually not true, and it is surely not true of parenting or
governing, as St. Benedict points out. This chapter firmly
contradicts the lie of such marketing. We are all individuals, all
treasures with different needs. Generic brand parenting will not do.
I was a miserable failure at discipline when teaching high school
sophomore English. I am sure it is an experience neither they nor I
would like to repeat. I tried to treat them like college students or
adults, a point they had not reached.
In my naivete, I expected them to respond. When they didn't, matters
escalated between us, but not into anything that did much good. I was
terribly at fault: I didn't see who they were, I gave them what *I* would
have liked to have had, but I was already in my mid-thirties with a lot of
I wasn't serving their needs, because I didn't know who or what they
were, nor, in that first year, did I even know how to find out! So,
like many before me, I substituted what I would want or need and
proclaimed that would fit all. Wrong! NOT!
Any abbess or parent who wants to try my way, not St. Benedict's,
will quickly find that it is as hard on them as it is on their
charges. My year of high school teaching was horrid and I hated it. My
students hated it, too. It was terrible for both of us at many, many
points. The light that entered in from time to time, the genuine
enjoyment of each other was only a flash that appeared rarely, faded
soon. I pray for those kids (and for those who taught me!) every day
of my life.
St. Benedict is not only moderate and balanced, he sees the person
clearly. He is a personalist of the first rank. Practice his
principles of government without the checks and balances of this
portion and you will be very displeased with the results. It
sometimes takes St. Benedict a while to make his point. Cut him short
before he has, and you will often wind up very sorry. Always let him
finish: the whole is a thing of beauty, but the parts may fall far
short of that.
Our own Abbot Anselm, once wisely commented that most preaching
is preaching to oneself, meaning that we give others what we need to
hear. Sadly, I think he's right. I know I have often done that.
Mercifully, God alone can bring good out of anything, so He can even
use our wrong-headedness to bring others to Him. He can do that with
obedience, too. If we give Him a bit less chaos by following
St. Benedict's methods rather than our own, it will be better for all
To a certain point, some people thrive on a lot of leeway, others do
not. Some people need rigid order, others will wither under that. A
superior who is into super control will soon be left with none but
those who need that and a few conflicted types who can at least
A superior who is too easy-going can also do harm. Sad is the
community where the only thing will ever get all the horses back into
the barn is death, and a few of them exist. They were produced by
mutual efforts of bad government and bad response.
Love and prayers,
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