March 7, July 7, November 6
Chapter 30: How Boys Are to Be Corrected
Every age and degree of understanding
should have its proper measure of discipline.
With regard to boys and adolescents, therefore,
or those who cannot understand the seriousness
of the penalty of excommunication,
whenever such as these are delinquent
let them be subjected to severe fasts
or brought to terms by harsh beatings,
that they may be cured.
We are, after all, creatures of our own age, for better or worse.
Every age has its hotspots and button-pushers, so it should amaze no
one that many jump immediately on the phrase "harsh beatings." ("Calm
down now, breathe deeply. Paramedics will be here any minute
now..Try not to speak...")
Don't let our own age's revulsion at corporal punishment (which was
thought perfectly sane when St. Benedict wrote,) blind you to the
pearl of great price herein. "Every age and degree of understanding
should have its proper measure of discipline." Probably unintentional
(but the Holy Spirit can sneak a lot of His stuff into our words,) is
the poetic ambiguity of the words "every age." That can mean all ages
of an individual AND all ages of history. Quite evidently, the best
minds of our own age no longer subscribe to beating sense into
someone as a terribly useful method. So we affirm that and move on to
the good stuff here.
The good stuff is personalism in the extreme. Every person is
different at every stage of their lives and every age in which people
are born produces different people. The stuff that horrified my
mother's generation often amuses me. I chuckle, or laugh right out
loud. Most of us can probably say that. We are different from the
generations before us because everything that formed us was NOT
identical to the external forces which formed our elders.
Think of the people you have thought were mean. I'll bet that there
is a statistically significant trend among them, a tendency to "one
size fits all" in punishment. Not so, folks, not so. Any who think
that must have their vision deflected to either the law itself or
their own annoyance, but they certainly couldn't hold such a position
if they were actually looking at the person before them.
St. Benedict wants us to look at the person, always, not just in
figuring out a punishment or discipline. look at the person, LOOK,
really look at the other. Why? because in the confusing mosaic of all
those others we shall see Christ, to Whom we must prefer nothing,
because He is really, truly there.
Love and prayers,
Jerome, OSB jeromeleo@...
St. Mary's Monastery