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Nov 18

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX 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).
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 18, 2002
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      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.
      We read
      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.

      REFLECTION

      "Above all...abstain from murmuring." The murmuring here (and
      everywhere it is mentioned in the Holy Rule,) is mean-spirited
      griping about people or conditions. Never for an instant think that
      Benedictine standards require one to be blind to real problems.
      Abbots can be removed and have been. The process is neither simple
      nor a great deal of fun, but it has been done. Real evils ought to be
      addressed and usually are.

      It's hard to write about this, because a certain unwritten law (well,
      written in the hearts of monastics!) governs what is and isn't
      murmuring. It's an intuitive sort of principle that one learns by
      living among and observing other monastics. All I can say is that the
      Benedictines I have known and know today do NOT blindly accept BS at
      any price. There are healthy levels of opposition and resistance in a
      healthy community, but their boundaries most not be violated. In
      fact, any superior or community which mercilessly destroys ALL
      disagreement or opposition is in serious danger. Part of community's
      efficacy is that vastly different people live together in peace.

      Maybe peace is the key to assessing a lot of murmuring. The meanest,
      most hateful monk I ever knew- now dead and buried some years in the
      Florida hills- had a life of nearly non-stop murmuring. Everything
      was wrong, everyone was wrong and he reported such things with an eye
      to harm. I heard another monk refer to this guy as "diabolical" and
      that was not an adjective he used lightly.

      Virtually nothing and no one at all measured up to Br. X's standards.
      He was hell to live with and I feared him when I was a novice. But
      there is the catch: he was hell to live with, even for himself. His
      self-hatred was masked by murmuring, by putting forth to the world
      high standards which he himself could in no way match and frankly,
      didn't. He was filled with anger and pain and sought to make the
      world around him match. What a convoluted mess!

      Listen up, m'dears, I cannot know what another's pain is or how they
      should seek help for it, but I do know that the Benedictine way is
      NOT to pass that on and not to stand idly by and watch another do so.
      Horrible to say, it took me years to get over Br. X's meanness. When
      I came here it took me years to learn that I no longer had to cover
      my flanks or look over my shoulder: no one here is mean, nor would we
      accept someone who was.

      Poor Br. X, I often pray for his tortured soul. However, it was not
      his fault alone. There was an Abbot who listened, there were monks
      who did, too. A united refusal to listen to such crap might have
      helped him, or it might have actually driven him out, but in fact
      that didn't happen until far, far too late. We all bear a two-sided
      obligation to mean murmuring: don't start it, and don't listen to it.
      Venom doesn't have any effect if it doesn't get in the bloodstream.
      See to it that you never help it on it's way.



      Love and prayers,

      Jerome, OSB jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Petersham, MA
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