Prayers, please for: the health and peace of Sr. Irene, heart
disease; for Natalie and her two daughters depending on her; for
Steve, facing unemployment, for his discernment; for BC seeking
counselling work. ALl is mercy and grace. God's will is best. Thanks
so much! JL
March 27, July 27, November 26
Chapter 47: On Giving the Signal for the Time of the Work of God
The indicating of the hour for the Work of God
by day and by night
shall devolve upon the Abbot
either to give the signal himself
or to assign this duty to such a careful brother
that everything will take place at the proper hours.
Let the Psalms and the antiphons be intoned
by those who are appointed for it,
in their order after the Abbot.
And no one shall presume to sing or read
unless he can fulfill that office
in such a way as to edify the hearers.
Let this function be performed
with humility, gravity and reverence,
and by him whom the Abbot has appointed.
Like it or not, for good or ill, the buck stops with the Abbot. This
is true of many, if not all authority figures, so if you fall into
such a group, know that when the Holy Rule speaks of the Abbot, it
speaks of any Benedictine in authority, with a charge or
responsibility, whether in the monastery or in the world.
There is a down side to the authority given here. Abbots are human.
They can make bad choices, they can listen to bad advice, they can
empower the wrong people. None of these things will, in and of
itself, absolve us from obedience, but they often have some pragmatic
use in realizing with whom (and what!) we are dealing.
I have known at least two abbots who were blind to the faults of
people they empowered to dangerous lengths. Virtually everybody else
in community knew, and, though risky, I would say that's a fairly
safe rule of thumb: all of the monks are rarely wrong about someone.
Oh, there may be the terribly occasional genuine saint who is
misunderstood, but usually, when the common opinion was that bad,
there was a reason for all that smoke somewhere!
Which reminds those of us who do have authority to listen to those
who disagree. Sometimes they are very, very right and we are wrong.
Sometimes the person we think is so wonderful is not so hot to
others, has a dark side that we never see, because the individual
wishes to impress the source of empowerment. Sigh...
Except for the rare above-mentioned saint, it is uncommon for someone
in a monastery to be that disliked because they are doing wonderfully
well. I'm not saying that NEVER happens, but at least in my monastic
experience, doing a job terribly well is not usually what earns
disfavor. Being a terror, on the other hand, readily does.
If the Abbot misses the fact and enables one who IS a terror, his
flock will be overdriven in nothing flat. As Scripture suggests, they
may all die in one day and rest assured, those of them who don't will
wish they'd been able to! Monastics can endure a lot patiently, but I
have never seen such a megalomaniac's power survive into a
successor's abbacy. Interesting to note, but when the power is
removed, the vocation often vaporizes, too. Many a heavyweight honcho
has departed soon after the Abbot that enabled him has left office.
Few, if any of them, were mourned.
Which brings us to another glitch. Your charge in the monastery
cannot be your vocation. If you make it so, you will quite likely
lose when asked to choose between the two. I LIKE being guestmaster,
but I don't need to be guestmaster. Something else would be fine.
What I NEED to be is a monk. For some, sadly, the need-to-be thing is
to be in power. Tragic and very, very sad... I have never known such
an individual in monastic life of whom I was the least bit envious.
They are pathetically sad creatures.
Love and prayers,