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Sept. 16

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please for Steve Vaughn, who has died, also for Mary Jane, 50 s and newly diagnosed with leukemia, on a marrow transplant search, and for Robin,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 16, 2003

      Prayers, please for Steve Vaughn, who has died, also for Mary Jane,
      50's and newly diagnosed with leukemia, on a marrow transplant
      search, and for Robin, terminally ill with lung cancer, and her
      friend Mara, and all her family. Prayers, too, for Carol, severe
      headaches of unknown origin, and for Doug, having a bit of a low
      point while struggling with asthma AND diabetes meds. God's will is
      best! All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL

      January 16, May 17, September 16
      Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

      Whenever any important business has to be done
      in the monastery,
      let the Abbot call together the whole community
      and state the matter to be acted upon.
      Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
      let him turn the matter over in his own mind
      and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
      The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
      is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.

      Let the brethren give their advice
      with all the deference required by humility,
      and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
      but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
      and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.

      However, just as it is proper
      for the disciples to obey their master,
      so also it is his function
      to dispose all things with prudence and justice.


      We elect our abbots, which may make obedience a bit easier for us
      than living under an appointed superior, but we are not a pure
      democracy. This is so hard for Americans in particular to learn, let
      alone value!! In terms of civil government comparisons, we may not be
      an absolute autocracy, but we are far from a constitutionally diluted
      monarchy! The abbot has a lot of power. In fact, in most cases, he
      has, as this chapter indicates, the last word.

      St. Benedict was far too wise to leave all power to an elective
      community. That would frustrate any abbot's efforts to upgrade the
      life of his flock. Monastics tend to resist change, let alone reform.
      They'd simply vote him down and be done with it. Communities, like
      St. Peter, must sometimes be girded by another and led where they
      would not go! Pure democracy would make that impossible.

      There is a great reminder in this chapter that either the community
      or the abbot can be wrong. That is so important for both to remember.
      Indeed, if either forgets that fact, the danger to humility is
      extreme and we are nothing if not humble. There is also the lesson
      here of mutual respect. Even though the abbot actually has the
      authority to ignore the community's suggestions, he is bidden to ask
      for input and receive it with prudence and justice, neither terrified
      by every passing whim of the body nor terrifying the body with every
      passing whim of his own!

      So, if you will, the concept of mutual obedience and fraternal love
      and respect is writ large over the whole of this chapter. Letting
      anyone have that much power is scary if the group as a whole is not
      constrained to virtue, but we are. Sure, the ideal can be failed, we
      are human, but the ideal is there and it is under the conditions of
      that ideal that so much is entrusted with faith to the abbot.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA
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