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4451Holy Rule for Jan. 16

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    Jan 15, 2014
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      Prayers, please, for the following:
      Amy, cancer in both lungs, had leg amputated and now is on life support due to a pulmonary infection, mother of 4 young daughters.
      Debbie's Dad, 86, dementia now with severe complications due to medication error, and for Debbie.
      Fr. Nadeem and his parishioners.
      for the eternal rest of Brian, killed in an accident, leaving a wife and two teenaged sons, and for all his family and all who mourn him.
      for the eternal rest of Jameson, on his death anniversary and for all who mourn him and all his family, esp. David, his Dad.
      update from Dianne on her grandson, Nathaniel. His tests were good and the prednisone they gave him is working. They found he was born with an auto
      immune disease.
      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 16, May 17, September 16
      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.


      Benedictine government is not pure democracy, but it was a lot more
      representative than Church government in its time or, for that
      matter, our own. It was also vastly more democratic than secular feudalism!

      Over nearly 15 centuries of Benedictine history, constitutions have divided
      the powers of abbot and community more specifically. There are times-
      not many, to be sure- when a chapter CAN thwart an abbot. There are
      times the abbot cannot act alone. But, by and large, our superiors
      have been left with a lot more power than the US President or the
      Queen of the United Kingdom, but less power than the average bishop.

      The way of St. Benedict is hardly mob rule, but it does ensure a
      voice to those governed, a voice that must be listened to, even when
      it is not definitive. How different history might be if people only had as
      much voice as the Holy Rule allows.

      There is no way at all that the world was ready for pure democracy in
      St. Benedict's time, in diocese or monastery or state. Large majorities of
      the populace were illiterate, few indeed were educated, and there were no
      means of mass communication. Whole empires, like the Aztec and Incan,
      rose without the slightest awareness that there were other people on
      the planet, nor was the rest of the world aware of them. It almost makes
      feudalism look like a really good idea for the times.

      And maybe it was, but it has ceased to be for our own time. There are
      clearly levels of education, communication and general ability in the
      population today that call for more participation, not less. Tough
      saying, but St. Benedict was writing for a society whose rank and
      file was largely full of really rustic types.
      True, they got a lot of their rough edges honed down in the monastic
      setting, but they were not as capable of contributing to decision-making
      as people are today.

      I am not writing this with an axe to grind, saying that the world should
      follow the Benedictine model. (Though that would certainly be my personal wish.)
      What I am trying to point out is the perennial wealth and freshness to be found
      in St. Benedict's Holy Rule. Its wisdom is as germane today as it was almost
      1,500 years
      ago. It bears the proud hallmark of both truth and wisdom: it is ageless.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA
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