Prayers, please, for D., who has some bankruptcy problems that a
court date may finally solve. God's will is best! Thanks. NRN JL
March 3, July 3, November 2
Chapter 26: On Those Who Without an Order Associate with the
If any sister presumes
without an order from the Abbess
to associate in any way with an excommunicated sister,
or to speak with her,
or to send her a message,
let her incur a similar punishment of excommunication.
When punishment is necessary, the community should support it, at
least passively. This united front should be far different from the
human tendency we often see to abandon those in trouble. Quite the
reverse, like everything in the Holy Rule, this must be fueled by the
concern born of great love.
Common life can often leave one with a slew of relationships which
are polite and civil, even cordial, but frankly no deeper than a lot
of people at work have with each other. That's sad, but it does
happen. Times of crisis like this should awaken us to the necessary
depth of love for all.
Hard though it may sometimes be, we may not rejoice at the downfall
of another. We must participate in common punishments because they
are for the good of all, but also because they are primarily for the
good of the offender, whom we must love. Admittedly, sometimes the
only way one can express that concern is prayer, but we must pray!
Sometimes, both superiors and communities can have an inordinate fear
of giving punishment. What if she leaves? Yeah, what if....? Maybe
she is supposed to leave, maybe this is God's way of telling her
something about herself that she cannot see. Some people who really,
truly do NOT belong in monastic life cannot be convinced of this.
Some people who are terrible at a given job will not wake up to that
fact in any other way. Toxic spouses must sometimes be told
explicitly that, if they insist on continuing to harm themselves,
they'll have to do it elsewhere, without destroying the rest of the
family any longer.
Some find the Rule harsh in this respect, but there is a great love
and mercy here. The Holy Rule forbids what most people in groups will
do: passive aggression. We cannot just wordlessly force the person
out without a clue as to why. Punishment must be named and specific,
the offender must know and those around her must care. It may in fact
force a monk out, but he will know why when he leaves. This is vastly
different from the ordinary human means of exclusion and expulsion.
It include grace. It includes love.
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery