Prayers, please, for the repose of Brother Joseph, also for the
conversions of Louis, Bonnie, Kim, Darla and Stephen. God's will is
best! Thanks so much. NRN JL
March 19, July 19, November 18
Chapter 40: On the Measure of Drink
"Everyone has her own gift from God,
one in this way and another in that" (1 Cor. 7:7).
It is therefore with some misgiving
that we regulate the measure of others' sustenance.
Nevertheless, keeping in view the needs of the weak,
we believe that a hemina of wine a day is sufficient for each.
But those to whom God gives the strength to abstain
should know that they will receive a special reward.
If the circumstances of the place,
or the work
or the heat of summer
require a greater measure,
the superior shall use her judgment in the matter,
taking care always
that there be no occasion for surfeit or drunkenness.
it is true,
that wine is by no means a drink for monastics;
but since the monastics of our day cannot be persuaded of this
let us at least agree to drink sparingly and not to satiety,
because "wine makes even the wise fall away" (Eccles. 19:2).
But where the circumstances of the place are such
that not even the measure prescribed above can be supplied,
but much less or none at all,
let those who live there bless God and not murmur.
Above all things do we give this admonition,
that they abstain from murmuring.
Two things stand out here: the gentleness of St. Benedict and the
necessity of praise in every circumstance.
St. Benedict admits he is hesitant to set forth a principle of how
much others he will never know might need for their sustenance. He
may not have seen just how many other people and lands and times he
was writing for, but he did see enough to be uneasy. This is not the
voice or tone of a relentless dictator whose undue hunger for control
finds his finger in every pie. This is a father who knows an
important fact: father may very well NOT always know best! Gentleness
and humility are two of the finest gems in any crown of authority.
Every bit as important, but hidden and even lost amidst worries about
how much a hemina is in metric, is the wonderful injunction that
those who lack must praise. However much we have or do not have, of
anything, is from God, not ourselves. How little we have may very
well have nothing to do with God at all. Even if it does, even if He
wills straitened times and tightened belts for our good and growth,
we must bless Him and not murmur.
Look back at the Instruments of Good Works in Chapter 4 and the Steps
of Humility in Chapter 7 and you will find in both a statement of
this same principle. The monastic is not to complain or murmur, but
to be happy- even thankful!- for whatever is received. That gratitude
and joy is essential because everything that is received is a gift
from God. Everything. Realizing that is a tremendously important
piece of the puzzle in our monastic searching and striving.
Love and prayers,