A blessed birthday and prayers for Maureen Tynan, one of our Oblates
here. Also, prayers, for Julie, recurrent cancer after heavy
treatments. God's will is best!! Thanks so much. NRN JL
March 4, July 4, November 3
Chapter 27: How Solicitous the Abbot Should Be for the Excommunicated
Let the Abbot be most solicitous
in his concern for delinquent brethren,
for "it is not the healthy but the sick who need a physician" (Matt
And therefore he ought to use every means
that a wise physician would use.
Let him send senpectae,
that is, brethren of mature years and wisdom,
who may as it were secretly console the wavering brother
and induce him to make humble satisfaction;
that he may not "be overwhelmed by excessive grief" (2 Cor. 2:7),
but that, as the Apostle says,
charity may be strengthened in him (2 Cor. 2:8).
And let everyone pray for him.
For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude
and exercise all prudence and diligence
lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him.
Let him know
that what he has undertaken is the care of weak souls
and not a tyranny over strong ones;
and let him fear the Prophet's warning
through which God says,
"What you saw to be fat you took to yourselves,
and what was feeble you cast away" (Ezec. 34:3,4).
Let him rather imitate the loving example of the Good Shepherd
who left the ninety-nine sheep in the mountains
and went to look for the one sheep that had gone astray,
on whose weakness He had such compassion
that He deigned to place it on His own sacred shoulders
and thus carry it back to the flock (Luke 15:4-5).
Suffice it to say that, though it may have been acceptable in the 5th
century, punishment by the rod has been long forbidden. Society,
people and times have changed a lot in 1,500 years!
The Abbess is clearly expected to go the extra mile and a bit beyond
for the erring monastic. Hope of reform is held for the longest
possible time. However, remember balance, that Benedictine hallmark?
Hope to the extreme would turn to damage. The balance, the moderator
of reality demands that, at some point, if literally all else has
failed, the situation be faced for what it is and the monastic
This is so important for families. How many of us know adults who are
carrying baggage all their lives from a parent's mistake in this
regard? All attention is focused on one child (or parent!) to the
detriment of the rest of the family. Or all attention is focused on a
child and it ruins the marriage. St. Benedict is very orthodox here:
he calls us to heroic efforts, but not to stupidity, which would
damage the rest of the family.
OK, usually you cannot permanently "excommunicate" one of your
children, that doesn't apply. But what does apply is that you can
(even must, for the good of the rest of your family,) stop making
that child or spouse the determining, pivotal point in a
dysfunctional three ring circus. This is one of the very hard things
the Holy Rule asks, to truly balance relationships that are often
charged with all kinds of intense emotions.
There are limits to our love for each sheep. Why? Because there are
other sheep to be loved, too. The responsibility is spread over all.
Yes, the shepherd may leave the 99 *for a while* to hunt for the lost
one, but the rest of the flock may never be abandoned wholesale. A
very hard saying, but, as St. Benedict so often is, right on the
Love and prayers,