A blessed Solemnity (it is for them!) of Saint Leo to all the monks,
Oblates and friends of St. Leo Abbey! Say a prayer for them all!
Also, please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Richard
Bourgeois, OSB, a monk of Glastonbury Abbey who died yesterday
morning. He was only 55.
March 11, July 11, November 10
Chapter 33: Whether Monks Ought to Have Anything of Their Own
This vice especially
is to be cut out of the monastery by the roots.
Let no one presume to give or receive anything
without the Abbot's leave,
or to have anything as his own --
whether book or tablets or pen or whatever it may be --
since they are not permitted to have even their bodies or wills
at their own disposal;
but for all their necessities
let them look to the Father of the monastery.
And let it be unlawful to have anything
which the Abbot has not given or allowed.
Let all things be common to all,
as it is written (Acts 4:32),
and let no one say or assume that anything is his own.
But if anyone is caught indulging in this most wicked vice,
let him be admonished once and a second time.
If he fails to amend,
let him undergo punishment.
Ever read George Orwell's parable on communism, "Animal Farm"? Things
went pretty well at first, when the proletarian animals overthrew the
human oppressors. Trouble crept in when the dictum," All animals are
equal" was changed without any fanfare to: "Some animals are more
equal than others."
Community ( from the Latin, meaning "with oneness",) absolutely
cannot work without a certain degree of equality among members.
Whenever some nuns or some monks or some employees or some children
are more equal than others, watch out for rifts and dissension in the
ranks. This insistence on communal ownership is one of St. Benedict's
steps toward attaining that goal of equality.
Yes, we must be personalist, we must observe that some need more than
others, and certainly not in material areas alone. The Holy Rule
provides for that, but it urges that those requiring more view it as
an infirmity, not an entitlement of divine right, and be humbled by
it. Few things are more pathetically tragic than a megalomaniac in
monastic life, one whose vocation becomes all but lost in a quest for
power and control. Granted, God can save anyone, but what a heart-
breaking waste of a monastic life that can seem! To say nothing of
being very unpalatably ascetic to all those forced to live with such
There is a certain inequality built right into our flawed and fallen
world. It exists in the animal kingdom and, alas, that surely
includes us! However, we are called to be ever less flawed, we are
called to permit the supernatural to fills us with grace and rule us,
not the law of the pack. Hence, while struggling with the limits of
human nature, we must be ever guardful not to exalt those limits. Our
goal must be ever equality, ever detachment, ever abdication of turf.
Love and prayers,
Jerome, OSB jeromeleo@... Petersham, MA