Prayers, for Rick, for whom we prayed and for Linda, his wife. Rick
died yesterday. Continued prayers for all threatened by fires in
California, along with prayers of thanks for those unscathed. Sr MJ's
family send thanks for all your prayers. Sr. Dorothy, for whom we
prayed is recovering well from her hip replacement. God's will is
best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much. JL
February 29, June 30, October 30
Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults
If a brother is found to be obstinate,
or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
If he fails to amend,
let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be placed under excommunication,
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
if he is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.
Calm down, folks! Nobody uses corporal punishment any more, though I
can tell you that its use in certain cases has often been a
daydreaming temptation! It's worth noting that, for most people, such
daydreams always chuckle at the thought of someone ELSE getting
corporal punishment, not themselves! Sigh... Me included.
While some today may chafe at these chapters, known as the penal code
of the Holy Rule, believe me, the modern problem is NOT that they are
too stringently enforced. Quite the opposite. The Benedictine
atmosphere of gentle moderation can cloak and empower a lot of
timidity and cowardice, too. Neither are very loving, they're just
useful means of avoidance.
Not all love is tough love, but all love IS tough. When a parent or
boss or superior chooses their own comfort by avoiding confrontation
with a problem member, everyone suffers. Those in authority are
called to love, and love leaves no stone unturned, not even those
that are horribly difficult to lift.
Most of us can think of far too many examples of timid authority
failures in families and workplaces. One probably cannot change the
people in charge that effect such negligence. One ought to bravely
try, but it often doesn't work. One can moan a lot about it, but that
gets to murmuring in no time and is also counter-productive.
The message here for all of us is "Look at your own choir stall",
which is a Benedictine way of saying "Mind your own business and
examine your conscience." If you are in authority, or get there
someday, don't be a flop or an unloving wimp. If you are not in
charge, don't make yourself one of the problems. It is terribly hard
for rank and file to ignore what seemingly ought not to be ignored,
but sometimes we simply have to do so or leave. That is one of the
VERY great ascetic disciplines of common life. Believe me, fasting
pales to nothing beside this one. I'd rather fast any day!
Over the years I have heard excuses close to whining from people in
all areas of authority: political, ecclesiastical, parental, monastic
and administrative. "Nothing can be done about so-and-so. My hands
are tied." I hate to say that I remain unable to completely buy that,
largely because sometimes I've been around long enough to see a
successor (or the juvenile courts!) DO something about so-and-so. My
own time as list owner of Monastic Life taught me that deciding to do
something can heap tons of abuse on one's head, but something often
can be done.
Monastics come to the Holy Rule for the benefit of discipline and
growth and guidance toward holiness. We have a right to same, and no
one should have to know that only for the most flagrant of abuses
will he or she get it. St. Benedict points us toward the "bonum
obedientiae", the good, the gift of obedience. That means that, for
Benedictines, there must be something much more than mere non-
intervention. There has to be someone on the rudder. There has to be
something more stable than the ever-changing weathervanes of
consensus or self-will. Micromanaging is a terrible fault, but no
management at all is far worse.
Love and prayers,