Sorry this is so late today! The awful thing is that 53 really *IS*
middle-aged: too old to beg the special kindness towards children and
too young to beg the weakness of the old! Sigh... -JL
March 16, July 16, November 15
Chapter 37: On the Old and Children
Although human nature itself is drawn to special kindness
towards these times of life,
that is towards the old and children,
still the authority of the Rule should also provide for them.
Let their weakness be always taken into account,
and let them by no means be held to the rigor of the Rule
with regard to food.
On the contrary,
let a kind consideration be shown to them,
and let them eat before the regular hours.
Many modern minds would find monasticism itself, including our Holy
Rule to be a harsh and inflexible thing. Sadly, many cranky,
curmudgeonly monastics who have missed the mark make those same
assumptions at times! We are not at all the heartless discipline of a
sort imagined by many.
This chapter, on the old and children, as well as in many other
places, such as the references to those who require more material
things and the care of the sick are highlights of Benedictinism's
faceted gem: personalism. St. Benedict sees persons as they are,
where they are. He meets them at many different points on the road to
monastic life, even within the monastery itself. He urges us to do
the same. He also calls all whom he meets at all of those
points "beginners", lest any of us become proud or think ourselves
better than the weak lamb he goes after.
The Holy Rule bends and twists and stoops to make many allowances for
many different sorts of weakness. In doing so, it clearly shows the
loving father's heart of the man who wrote its Prologue in such
Love and prayers,
Jerome, OSB jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Petersham, MA