Holy Rule for Sept. 16
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their families and all who treat or care for them:
Fr. Robert, had a stroke, but still able to speak, and for Babrbara, his spiritual daughter.
Nadeem and Laura, entering the initial Oblate formation at St. Vincent's Archabbey, Latrobe, PA
Fr. Rudy, in his 40's, on life support after a brain aneurysm last Sunday.
Lawrence, 15, brain clot and ICU after going through the windshield in a car accident, and for the other four teens injured with him.
Peg, major depressive episode. 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
January 16, May 17, September 16
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.
Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.
However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
Benedictine government is not pure democracy, but it is a lot more
representative than Church government in its time or, for that
matter, our own. One sometimes wishes that both Church and state
of today had a more Benedictine flavor!
The Catholic Church actually had models in its early years that were
MORE democratic than St. Benedict, the synagogue model and the
charismatic, both more congregational in their aspects. Both were
abandoned for the monarchial episcopate model connected with Antioch.
Over 15 centuries of Benedictine history, constitutions have divided
the powers of abbot and community more specifically. There are times-
not many, to be sure- when a chapter can thwart an abbot. There are
times the abbot cannot act alone. But, by and large, our superiors
have been left with a lot more power than the US President or the
Queen of the United Kingdom, but less power than the average bishop.
The way of St. Benedict is hardly mob rule, but it does ensure a
voice to those governed, a voice that must be listened to, even when
it is not definitive. How clearly St. Benedict saw what would happen to
a community with no voice: the members would feel ripped off, and rightly
There is no way at all that the world was ready for pure democracy in
St. Benedict's time. The majority of the populace was illiterate, few
indeed were educated, and there were no means of mass communication.
Whole empires, like the Aztec and Incan, rose without the slightest
awareness that there were other people on the planet, nor was the rest
of the world aware of them. I would be the last person to call for free
elections in such a milieu. By contrast, it almost makes feudalism look like
a really good idea for the times.
And maybe it was, but it has ceased to be for our own time. There are
clearly levels of education, communication and general ability in the
population today that call for more participation, not less. Tough
saying, but St. Benedict was writing for a society whose rank and
file was largely full of uncouth rustics. True, they got a lot of their rough
edges honed down in the monastic setting, but they were not as
capable of contributing to decision-making as people are today.
I am not writing this with an axe to grind, saying that the world should
follow the Benedictine model. (Though that would certainly be my personal
wish.) What I am trying to point out is the perennial wealth and freshness
to be found in St. Benedict's Holy Rule. Its wisdom is as germane today as
it was 1,500 years ago. It bears the proud hallmark of both truth and
it is ageless.
Love and prayers,
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