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Nov. 15

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX 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,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 15, 2003
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      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.

      REFLECTION

      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
      tender terms.

      The tenderness of St. Benedict shines through here. These are strong
      words for weakness: "ALWAYS taken into account," and "BY NO MEANS
      held to the rigor of the Rule for food." Though he prefaces his
      chapter recalling that any healthy human nature has a certain level
      of consideration for these age groups, our holy Father Benedict
      quickly returns to a very consistent theme of the Holy Rule: we are
      called to more than mere nature. We are called to enhance our nature
      to the heights of sanctity. Our considerate mindfulness for every
      person and their individual needs must be greater than that of the
      world.

      St. Benedict's aim is that each of us ALWAYS see the person first.
      That kind of loving mindfulness will make the chapters on the sick
      and the young and old seem to be complete no-brainers. This is the
      way we should be seeing everyone: real people for whom they really
      are, nothing more or less. Circumstances do arise that require
      greater attention, but the foundation of that is a firm theology of
      personalism.

      It should come as no great shock that the most frequent obstacle to
      viewing others correctly is ourselves. Our own image, our self, our
      pain, our projections get in the way of the lens of truth. We have to
      spend our monastic struggle learning to put those things aside, so
      that the light of others may shine through unobstructed.

      With our own needs at least on a back burner, or better yet, shelved
      far off in the pantry, we can begin to truly see others and their
      needs. Wipe the mud of self from our eyes and we can see the
      treasures that surround us. Mother Teresa of Calcutta surely did
      that. She saw beauty that all of us less holy than she missed big-
      time and she saw it in everyone.

      A key to all this is a favorite quote from Antoine de St.
      Exupery's "Little Prince":

      "The essential is invisible to the eyes. One can only see rightly
      with the heart."

      That's what our Holy Rule demands: the cultivation of the very loving
      eyes of our hearts!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA
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