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Apr 5

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX April 5, August 5, December 5 Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests Let there be a separate kitchen for the Abbot and guests, that the brethren may not
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2003
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      April 5, August 5, December 5
      Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests

      Let there be a separate kitchen for the Abbot and guests,
      that the brethren may not be disturbed when guests,
      who are never lacking in a monastery,
      arrive at irregular hours.
      Let two brethren capable of filling the office well
      be appointed for a year to have charge of this kitchen.
      Let them be given such help as they need,
      that they may serve without murmuring.
      And on the other hand,
      when they have less to occupy them,
      let them go out to whatever work is assigned them.

      And not only in their case
      but in all the offices of the monastery
      let this arrangement be observed,
      that when help is needed it be supplied,
      and again when the workers are unoccupied
      they do whatever they are bidden.

      The guest house also shall be assigned to a brother
      whose soul is possessed by the fear of God.
      Let there be a sufficient number of beds made up in it;
      and let the house of God be managed by prudent men
      and in a prudent manner.

      On no account shall anyone who is not so ordered
      associate or converse with guests.
      But if he should meet them or see them,
      let him greet them humbly, as we have said,
      ask their blessing and pass on,
      saying that he is not allowed to converse with a guest.

      REFLECTION

      I am living proof that, when a monastery has to, it can get by with
      less than a guestmaster "possessed by the fear of God." Some
      days, "impressed by the fear of God" is about the best I can pull
      off. There are other days when I take comfort in the fact that all
      the Holy Rule really says about the guest house itself is that there
      be a sufficient number of made-up beds and a kitchen of its own,
      because frills beyond that are not likely to be forthcoming! But I
      digress...

      Asking that the house of God be prudently governed by the prudent
      surely applies to more than the guest house. That principle goes for
      the whole monastery, as well as for the families and homes of those
      monastics in the world outside the cloister. This is not just another
      call to frugality or economy or order for their own sakes. We are
      Benedictines, we don't do ANYTHING for its own sake, except God!

      The whole idea of balance and peace and moderation and serenity is
      nothing more or less than a singular setting for a pearl of very
      great price. We need those things for our monastic struggle to be
      most effective. Sometimes a surgeon might have to operate on a bloody
      battlefield, but don't be surprised if infection follows. It's the
      same with us and dysfunctional, imprudent messes. We CAN operate
      there if we have to, but infections are likely. We need a certain
      amount of reduction of inconsequential hassles to focus on the one
      thing necessary. St. Benedict strives to provide us with that. No,
      the monastery is not a sterile surgical suite (and I always worry
      when one looks that way!) but neither is it an ill-housed flock of
      free range chickens. Show me a monastery or home that has become a
      zoo and I can guarantee you there will be a LOT of spiritual
      ramifications, as well.

      We are not necessarily Thomists (though if memory serves me properly,
      our Order conducted some of St. Thomas Aquinas' early schooling,) but
      we can surely affirm that "peace is the tranquility of order." St.
      Thomas' view of the virtues is important to us, too, imbued with the
      principles of Aristotle: "Virtus in media stat." Virtue stands in the
      middle way. What could be more Benedictinely moderate and balanced?

      It must be clearly remembered that when we speak of "prudence", we
      speak of a virtue, a thing of holiness and a golden mean. Not for
      nothing did our contemporary language get the unlovely title
      of "prude" from the same root. All manner of foolish timidity,
      cowardice, stinge and hearts-by-Frigidaire prudishness have been
      falsely named prudence. Prudence is not and never can be a wicked
      thing. Prudence, real wisdom, is a thing always to be desired. False
      prudence, on the other hand, of which there is sadly no shortage, is
      a thing always and everywhere to be rejected. Give such people a lot
      of room. False prudence and meanness of spirit, whatever else they
      may be, are windows into one's heart. The view is not always lovely
      and may require a lot of prayer, but one is better off to never
      follow such a troubled person. Just be kind and very, very careful!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery
      Petersham, MA
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