Holy Rule for June 30
Prayers, please for the safety of Beccy and Jerry and all travelling on this holiday weekend in the US. Prayers for a separated Mom in a very, very difficult psoition with her kids and their visiting their Dad, for the will of God in this very complicated situation.
Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias for:
Gavin, the 6 month old we prayed for, he is making great strides and seems to be overcoming his infection, but still needs prayers and for his parents.
Jeanette and Dale, successful medical procedures.
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of James, 82, uncle of our Sister Mary Paula, and for all his family and those who mourn him.
Prayers for the spiritual, physical and mental health of the following, and for their families and all who treat them or care for them,
Br. Vincent's Dad, Cos, congestive heart failure and kidney problems, and especially for his wife, Vita, trying so hard to care for him.
David, severe depression and for Chris, who worries so about him.
Jeanette, new tests, severe lung condition.
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
February 29, June 30, October 30
Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults
If a brother is found to be obstinate,
or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
If he fails to amend,
let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be placed under excommunication,
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
if he is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.
While some today may chafe at these chapters, known as the penal code
of the Holy Rule, believe me, the modern problem is NOT that they are
too stringently enforced. Quite the opposite. The Benedictine
atmosphere of gentle moderation can cloak and empower a lot of
timidity and cowardice, too. Neither are very loving, they're just
useful means of avoidance.
Not all love is tough love, but all love IS tough. When a parent or
boss or superior chooses their own comfort by avoiding confrontation
with a problem member, everyone suffers. Those in authority are
called to love, and love leaves no stone unturned, not even those
that are horribly difficult to lift.
The message here for all of us is "Look at your own choir stall",
which is a Benedictine way of saying "Mind your own business and
examine your conscience." If you are in authority, or get there
someday, don't be a flop or an unloving wimp. If you are not in
charge, don't make yourself one of the problems. It is terribly hard
for rank and file to ignore what seemingly ought not to be ignored, but
sometimes we simply have to do so or leave. That is one of the VERY
great ascetic disciplines of common life. Believe me, fasting pales
to nothing beside this one. I'd rather fast any day!
I have known monastics (and employees and managers and parents!) who
forced more than one person out by their unchecked behavior, something a
good superior could have fixed or at least mitigated. To assume that the
offenders were ALWAYS the instruments of God's will in such cases, that the
person was supposed to leave or "just couldn't take it," is blatantly false and
pathetically stupid. It is even more tragic when the one in charge is taking the
easy way out by non-intervention. That scenario would be tantamount to saying
that child abuse was just an instrument of God's will. It isn't. No serious offense
is and no monastic should be left in such peril uncorrected.
God's will has to work around and in spite of human frailty, but
human frailty can and does often put huge obstacles in the way.
Meanness and abusiveness can destroy others' vocations as well as
one's own. So can cowardice and inactivity in the name of false
Over the years I have heard excuses close to whining from people in
all areas of authority: political, ecclesiastical, parental, monastic
and administrative. "Nothing can be done about so-and-so. My hands
are tied." I hate to say that I remain unable to completely buy that,
largely because sometimes I've been around long enough to see a
successor (or the juvenile courts!) DO something about so-and-so.
I have also been in charge enough times to realize that often
something CAN be done. It is not palatable or easy, but it is
possible. One of the things that strengthened me as listowner was the
memory of weak superiors and ineffectual bosses and the tension of
living in the chaotic messes they enabled by abdicating their
responsibility. Responsibility is the ministry of service which is
appropriate to authority, it is a necessary function of love.
Monastics come to the Holy Rule for the benefit of discipline and
growth and guidance toward holiness. We have a right to same, and no
one should have to know that only for child abuse will he or she get
it. There are many, many abuses that involve neither sex, nor
children, nor outsiders that require equal attention.
If we take an firm hand in one area only (an area which, it must be
noted, is financially very dangerous...) we will look rather foolish
in priding ourselves that we are left with a community or Church that
can keep its hands off children. There's more to it than that. Much more.
Love and prayers,
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