Holy Rule for Mar. 2
Prayers, please, for Emily, elderly, battling cancer and in quite bad shape.
Please pray for all those in the southern United States who are being
affected by multiple tornadoes, specifically for the 8 students confirmed dead in a
high school that was struck, and for others trapped under debris. Prayers
for the happy deaths and eternal rest of all who lost their lives there, no
final count available, and for all who mourn them. Prayers for Anastasia,
troubled teen we have prayed for in the past, she ran away from her group home and
has not been heard from. Prayers, too, for her parents, especially her
worried Mom. Deo gratias and prayers of thanksgiving for James, his lab results
came back perfectly normal and he is so grateful. 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
March 2, July 2, November 1
Chapter 25: On Weightier Faults
Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault
be excluded both from the table and from the oratory.
Let none of the brethren join him
either for company or for conversation.
Let him be alone at the work assigned him,
abiding in penitential sorrow
and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle
where he says that a man of that kind is handed over
for the destruction of the flesh,
that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5).
Let him take his meals alone
in the measure and at the hour
which the Abbot shall consider suitable for him.
He shall not be blessed by those who pass by,
nor shall the food that is given him be blessed.
Justice demands that the punishment fit the crime, and St. Benedict
gives the two points between which a spectrum of other methods may be
employed. He does not want a one-size-fits-all system of correction
and clearly says so more than once.
Think of any parent or authority figure you have ever heard
criticized. If punishment was in any way involved, it is most likely
that the fault was in doing too much or too little. A cruel person
can make employees or children or monastics live in terror.
Punishment is relentless and swift and often comes without warning.
This may result in slavish compliance or outright rebellion, but it
never results in a healthy self, for authority or subject. We are not
called to live in dread of unwittingly angering some intransigent
despot, whose whims may be dangerous, indeed. We are called to live
in peace and mercy: to receive it and to give it to others. That is true of
monastics, superiors and those governed.
But we are not called to peace at any price whatsoever, which is the
fault of those who do too little to correct. Fear of the governed is
as stupid and pointless as fear of the governor and neither helps
anyone. While too much control may lead the community to fear the
Abbess, too little will leave them equally afraid of each other!
Note carefully that the missing ingredients in either extreme are love,
real charity, as well as a trusting prayer for grace and guidance. God
is NEVER in charge of such vicious extremes, and if they occur, it is
quite likely that we either didn't ask Him for grace and help or didn't
listen when it came. If we are not showing His love to all, something
is very wrong. If mercy does not temper justice (and justice does not
temper total inaction!) something is quite amiss.
Really peaceful people do not avoid confrontation at all costs, if
they do, even they will never have peace. They will have nothing more
than an uneasy truce or more less perpetual fear. That is not the
loving way to deal with a problem.
The Benedictine way is, as usual, the middle way. Some would put down
the middle way, call it weak, but, as we have seen, it takes a
tremendous amount of guts and grace to do it well. Our way is quite
the reverse of a cop-out: it requires genuine courage and grace, to
say nothing of its chief component, a lot of very frank and truthful
LOVE! Ah, yes, and that mercy which is a mirror of the Divine Mercy, too!
Love and prayers,
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