Prayers, please, for Paul, suffering from depression. God's will is
best! All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL
April 10, August 10, December 10
Chapter 57: On the Artisans of the Monastery
If there are artisans in the monastery,
let them practice their crafts with all humility,
provided the Abbot has given permission.
But if any one of them becomes conceited
over his skill in his craft,
because he seems to be conferring a benefit on the monastery,
let him be taken from his craft
and no longer exercise it unless,
after he has humbled himself,
the Abbot again gives him permission.
If any of the work of the craftsmen is to be sold,
those responsible for the sale
must not dare to practice any fraud.
Let them always remember Ananias and Saphira,
who incurred bodily death (Acts 5:1-11),
lest they and all who perpetrate fraud
in monastery affairs
suffer spiritual death.
And in the prices let not the sin of avarice creep in,
but let the goods always be sold a little cheaper
than they can be sold by people in the world,
"that in all things God may be glorified" (1 Peter 4:11).
My all-time favorite quote from G. K. Chesterton is: "The artistic
temperament is a disease which afflicts amateurs." Amen!!! Ideally,
Christian life itself has no place whatever for prima donnas or mad
queens (of either gender!) but monastic life most assuredly does not.
The true artist is marked by humility, not because of low self-
esteem, but because of a healthy dose of reality, a firm conviction
that one's gift has been given by God and given with an eye to the
service of all. Christian art, in any form, has no meaning at all
outside of the glory of God and the betterment of the community.
For an artisan to become proud about this would be as ludicrous as
for a priest to be proud of his ability to consecrate, or a layperson
proud of their ability to baptize. Sorry, folks! Doesn't come from us.
Comes from God and we have to always remember our own littleness in
receiving such wonders.
A wrong attitude towards one's gift can quickly turn what God
intended to be a boon to the Christian community into a very large
and unmanageable human cross. Unfortunately, this turn of events is
neither rare nor well done, you should pardon the play on words. Art
matters in communities, it must be treasured and held dear, because
it is a gift from a loving God. It is God and His gift that must be
sacrosanct, not some tempramental artist who is just passing that
gift on to others...
The point here is that art must always and everywhere matter less
than the people performing or enjoying it. The brothers and sisters
come first, and they do so from a theological imperative of charity,
much, much more intense than any concept of human reason alone or
canon of aesthetics. In a very real sense, the artist must matter
least of all, must disappear behind the gift, not insist on being
thrust into a foreground of power trips and control.
When a person does liturgy correctly, they vanish behind the veil of
vesture and rubric. They become icon bearers and what is seen is no
longer Traci or Jason, but acolyte and priest. It ought to be so with
artists, but it ought to be so with any gift or skill God has
graciously given us. We truly are NOT the source of the profound
gifts we receive and share. God is. God alone is.
"He must increase, I must decrease..." As soon as we forget that, our
gift becomes a weight dragging us downwards to potentially ultimate
loss, rather than helping us to ascend the heights. Good superiors
can see this and stop it, but not all superiors are good! Let us pray
that our gifts will always be focused by the wise and loving hand of
some realist, to whom God has given the gift of loving truthfulness!
Love and prayers,