March 13, July 13, November 12
Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen
Let the brethren serve one another,
and let no one be excused from the kitchen service
except by reason of sickness
or occupation in some important work.
For this service brings increase of reward and of charity.
But let helpers be provided for the weak ones,
that they may not be distressed by this work;
and indeed let everyone have help,
as required by the size of the community
or the circumstances of the locality.
If the community is a large one,
the cellarer shall be excused from the kitchen service;
and so also those whose occupations are of greater utility,
as we said above.
Let the rest serve one another in charity.
The one who is ending his week of service
shall do the cleaning on Saturday.
He shall wash the towels
with which the brethren wipe their hands and feet;
and this server who is ending his week,
aided by the one who is about to begin,
shall wash the feet of all the brethren.
He shall return the utensils of his office to the cellarer
clean and in good condition,
and the cellarer in turn shall consign them to the incoming server,
in order that he may know
what he gives out and what he receives back.
Two quickies here! First, ANY kitchen service, whether cooking or
cleaning or waiting on the diners is a great and holy thing. Always
remember that the central liturgical event left to us is a MEAL at
which we gather! Hence, the dinner table and the altar have (and
OUGHT to have!) a lot in common. It is a priestly act that we all
share by Baptism to offer food to another. There is a sacramentality
of sorts to feeding people, if only we would look at it and be
grateful for the mercy shown us in being able to sustain others!
Second, this is one of several places where those in charge are told
to clean everything up and turn it in at the end of their service.
Yes, there is a monastic frugality here, a carefulness of what the
community owns, but there is more. Our charges are loans only! We do
not take any charge as a potentate! One will follow us and then we
must surrender all that our charge entailed.
There is yet another gem: surrender. The monastic life is fueled by
one surrender after another. Stop surrendering and you have stopped,
period. We spend our lives plucking scales off our eyes, one by one!
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA