Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. July 4
- +PAX Our good Brother Jerome has asked me to tell all the members of the
Holy Rule Group that his computer has contracted a virus. Consequently,
he will not be able to post Prayer Intentions or answer emails for fear
of infecting other computers. Brother's first thought was concern about
the members of the group and he is greatly troubled that he will not be
able to post your prayer intentions until he is back online. Brother
feels that in some way he is letting us down but, of course, we all know
better than that and I did my best to assurre him of that. He will be
praying for all his members and I ask all members to pray for our good
Brother Jerome and a speedy solution to his computer problems. In the
meantime I will do my best to keep his reflections posted daily.
U.I.O.G.D. All my love and Prayers.....michael...oblate March 4,
July 4, November 3
Chapter 27: How Solicitous the Abbot Should Be for the Excommunicated
Let the Abbot be most solicitous in his concern for delinquent brethren,
for "it is not the healthy but the sick who need a physician" (Matt
9:12) And therefore he ought to use every means
that a wise physician would use.
Let him send senpectae, that is, brethren of mature years and wisdom,
who may as it were secretly console the wavering brother
and induce him to make humble satisfaction; comforting him
that he may not "be overwhelmed by excessive grief" (2 Cor. 2:7),
but that, as the Apostle says, charity may be strengthened in him (2
Cor. 2:8). And let everyone pray for him.
For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude and exercise all prudence
and diligence lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him. Let him
know that what he has undertaken is the care of weak souls and not a
tyranny over strong ones; and let him fear the Prophet's warning through
which God says, "What you saw to be fat you took to yourselves, and what
was feeble you cast away" (Ezec. 34:3,4). Let him rather imitate the
loving example of the Good Shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep in
and went to look for the one sheep that had gone astray, on whose
weakness He had such compassion that He deigned to place it on His own
sacred shoulders and thus carry it back to the flock (Luke 15:4-5).
The Abbess is clearly expected to go the extra mile and a bit beyond for
the erring monastic. Hope of reform is held for the longest possible
time. However, remember balance, that Benedictine hallmark? Hope to the
extreme would turn to damage. The balance, the moderator of reality
demands that, at some point, if literally all else has failed, the
situation be faced for what it is and the monastic expelled.
This is so important for families. How many of us know adults who are
carrying baggage all their lives from a parent's mistake in this
regard? All attention is focused on one child (or parent!) to the
detriment of the rest of the family. Or all attention is focused on a
child and it ruins the marriage. St. Benedict is very orthodox here:
he calls us to heroic efforts, but not to stupidity, which would
damage the rest of the family.
OK, usually you cannot permanently "excommunicate" one of your
children, that doesn't apply. But what does apply is that you can
(even must, for the good of the rest of the group,) stop making
that child or spouse or sibling or co-worker the determining, pivotal
point in a dysfunctional three ring circus.
Bosses, superiors, teachers and parents, anyone in authority can make
the WHOLE group suffer by mismanaging a troubled person. The untreated
problem harries everyone and much of the blame for that rests with the
one in a position to intervene. This is one of the very hard things the
Holy Rule asks, to truly balance relationships that are often charged
with all kinds of intense
There are limits to our love for each sheep. Why? Because there are
other sheep to be loved, too. The responsibility is spread over all.
Yes, the shepherd may leave the 99 *for a while* to hunt for the lost
one, but the rest of the flock may never be abandoned wholesale. A very
hard saying, but, as St. Benedict so often is, right on the money!
Love and prayers,
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