Prayers, please, for all those with prayer requests who were not able to
have them posted! God knows and will receive our prayers for their
intentions just the same. Prayers for all those who have, or will, this
day taken their own lives. May God in His infinite forgiveness have
mercy on them. Also, prayers for Gary for a very important exam for much
needed job. Prayers for Genny with severe emotional problems. Also, for
Brother Jerome and a rapid solution to his computer problems. Lord,
help them 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 6, July 6, November 5
Chapter 29: Whether Brethren Who Leave the Monastery Should Be Received
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.
There are variant readings of the first line of this chapter among
manuscripts. Some authorities accept the additional phrase "or is
expelled", though the RB1980 translation does not. As with so many
things this ancient, it is hard to tell who is right (and sometimes, if
that matters!) I checked in the library downstairs, but I can't find our
autographed first edition of the Holy Rule anywhere... LOL!
However, let's err on the side of mercy if we are to err at all.
Since most modern translations omit the phrase, let's take a look at the
other possibility: what if it really was what St. Benedict had in mind?
If so, it reveals a mercy and love and tenderness beyond anything we
have ever seen in the Holy Rule. If, even after all the hassle that can
occur before one actually gets thrown out, one could STILL be forgiven,
and up to three times, that is very great mercy to say the least.
Still, it is a very consistent reading with the penal code that precedes
it. If the only reason for Benedictine punishment is reform and
conversion, then even the ultimate punishment of expulsion could have a
hook of possible conversion to it.
From this perspective, let us look at ourselves for a moment. How do we
"punish" people or banish them from our lives and hearts? I use quotes
around "punish" to stress the lunacy that very often
such "punishments" harm no one but ourselves. We decide, once and for
all that this or that person has had it. End of story. Well, if one
reads the Holy Rule carefully, there MAY be an "end of story" point for
Benedictines, but it does not come as often or as early or as readily as
some of us might think!
Face it, a lot of us think of punishment as about US, not the
offender. It is OUR "justice" that gets fed, that makes demands, that
says we are totally done with the person. Whoa! If God's ideas are
anything like that (and we daily ask Him to use our standards of mercy
in the Our Father,) we are in deep, deep trouble.
Our punishments must have an eye to reform, not revenge, to conversion,
not conclusion. Permanent rifts, as even the Rule allows, may sometimes
occur, but then our attitude should be sadness, not joy. Even when
something becomes so toxic that separation is necessary, we are always
bound to prayer for that person.
Love and prayers,
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