Brother Vincent is FORTY today! Please remember him in your prayers.
God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL
April 15, August 15, December 15
Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received
If a pilgrim monastic coming from a distant region
wants to live as a guest of the monastery,
let her be received for as long a time as she desires,
provided she is content
with the customs of the place as she finds them
and does not disturb the monastery by superfluous demands,
but is simply content with what she finds.
If, however, she censures or points out anything reasonably
and with the humility of charity,
let the Abbess consider prudently
whether perhaps it was for that very purpose
that the Lord sent her.
If afterwards she should want to bind herself to stability,
her wish should not be denied her,
especially since there has been opportunity
during her stay as a guest
to discover her character.
One of the Desert Fathers (forgive me for not recalling which one,)
said that there is nothing so careful as a monk not living in his
native land. That's very true for most of us, though part two of this
chapter makes it clear that it's not true for everyone. When we
visit, we want people to think the best of the home, the family, the
land from which we came. It is this nobility of striving, this
mindful courtesy that the Desert Father wished to praise. In fact, if
I read it correctly, the implication was that it might even be better
to be a monastic AWAY from one's native land for just those reasons.
There is something striking here. Remember how badly the gyrovagues
and Sarabaites were painted in the types of monks? Well, these were
the wandering ones, and St. Benedict knew very well that a pilgrim
monk at the door could be one of these sorts. He doesn't even mention
He wants them to have a chance to do better, to be healed by
community. If they blow it, fine, he's not going to lose a lot of
sleep over it, but he does insist they be given a chance to improve.
Given what the monastic world thought of gyrovagues and the like,
that says a LOT for St. Benedict's tolerance and clemency.
Not all of us are in cloisters, but all of us have doors. The people
who come to those doors may be gyrovagues and Sarabaites, but they
may not, too. We have to give them a chance to prove or reveal
themselves. This is true of anyone we encounter. Snap judgments are
not wise, they cheat us out of many gifts. Being too much or too
little on the side of caution are both traps. Tread the middle way,
always the middle way.
This doesn't mean we have to dupe ourselves into perpetual
vulnerability, but it does mean we have to be open, mindful and
listening, really listening to all comers. Listen first, sift later.
Do both, always both.
We can get so used to our lives that we are blind to areas that could
be improved. We can get so used to doing things one way that anything
better is beyond us. Our routines which become sacrosanct are often
not at all that holy!
An outsider's objective view can let us see a good deal about
ourselves. Some things we may want to change, some we may realize are
fine as they are. Either way, the visitor can be a reality check of
Love and prayers,