Prayers of thanks for Glenna, whose biopsy was negative. Deo gratias!
Also, for Arno, facing med school exams! Thanks so much! God's will
be done! NRN JL
March 6, July 6, November 5
Chapter 29: Whether Brethren Who Leave the Monastery Should Be
If a brother
who through his own fault leaves the monastery
should wish to return,
let him first promise full reparation for his having gone away;
and then let him be received in the lowest place,
as a test of his humility.
And if he should leave again,
let him be taken back again,
and so a third time;
but he should understand that after this
all way of return is denied him.
This one could well apply to groups other than monasteries, families
especially, since most workplaces would never go up to the three-time
The Gospel tells us to forgive 70 times 7 times and surely, we must.
That, however, is a command on us individually, and a command, by the
way, that calls for forgiveness, not foolhardiness. One needn't keep
one's hand on the same hot stove throughout all the forgiving!
At some point, too, probably well before the end of one's forgiveness
rope, the offender would probably have incurred at least some loss of
privilege. Obviously, the dog that is forgiven for killing sheep
several times will not likely tend the flock.
The thing to remember here and in families is that we are not dealing
with only two individuals, but a group. Re-entry into a monastery (or
family,) can be a very tense thing. It is certainly worth doing, but
not a good thing to do limitless times. It wears out the family and
it wears out the community. St. Benedict is not mean here. There is
no element of surprise to the offender about the three-strikes-and-
you're-out program: she has heard it ever since novitiate. It might
be construed as mean if there were no forewarning, but there is.
Anyone coming back for the third time knows they are on their last
leg. Foul up that time, and you're history.
The monastery is a specialized society with a specialized goal:
seeking union with God for all its members. Because of that
specialized nature, the monastery does not have an infinite
commitment to anyone, except to one who truly perseveres unto death.
Not everyone who wants to join a monastery is truly called to be a
monastic. People can be allowed to leave, or they can be thrown out,
or they can be told they can never come back after the third time.
This is a different situation from forgiveness. The one denied
further entry must, no doubt at all, be forgiven, but he must also
know that his chances to disrupt the community have come to an end.
Love and prayers,