January 14, May 15, September 14
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
The Abbess should always remember what she is
and what she is called,
and should know that to whom more is committed,
from her more is required (Luke 12:48).
Let her understand also
what a difficult and arduous task she has undertaken:
ruling souls and adapting herself to a variety of characters.
One she must coax, another scold, another persuade,
according to each one's character and understanding.
Thus she must adjust and adapt herself to all
in such a way that she may not only suffer no loss
in the flock committed to her care,
but may even rejoice in the increase of a good flock.
When we read these portions of the Holy Rule which deal with the
Abbot or other officials a very handy suggestion is in order. Read
them to see what the Abbess DOES comply with, not what you feel she
misses, because no one I have ever known in the abbacy is perfect
enough to fulfill them all at all times. Read them with one eye on
who the Abbot really is as a frail human being, what sort of person
he is, and the other eye focused on what is demanded of him by the
Holy Rule. Chapters such as this one will give you a really valuable
insight into what those officials are wrestling with, a glimpse of
how tough it can be to tread the very fine line.
Parents, fear not! I'll bet Mother Teresa of Calcutta couldn't read
this chapters without cringing a little, maybe even a lot. If your
eyes are even half open, you will see the areas of failure every time
you read them. (If, by some odd oversight, you have missed one or
two, your children are quite likely to point them out to you the next
time they get mad!!) Use those areas as goals to work on, but don't
beat yourself up on them too badly. Not only does no one ever get
there all at once, but, frankly, I don't think anyone ever gets there
all the way period. It is death and heaven which finally perfect us.
Meanwhile, we struggle and plod.
Finally, since the majority of us will never be Abbots, read these
portions of the Rule to see how you measure up. How many of these
qualities do you have? When one of the things demanded of the Abbess
is exercised in your regard, how gracefully, even gratefully, do you
receive it? Authority is a two-way street. Any kid who thinks it ALL
devolves on parents hasn't read the Commandments past number three.
There are responsibilities both parties must uphold.
Love and prayers,