Prayers, please, for Tim, who has a lot of problems. God's will is
best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much. JL
April 20, August 20, December 20
Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess
In the constituting of an Abbess
let this plan always be followed,
that the office be conferred on the one who is chosen
either by the whole community unanimously in the fear of God
or else by a part of the community, however small,
if its counsel is more wholesome.
Merit of life and wisdom of doctrine
should determine the choice of the one to be constituted,
even if she be the last of the order of the community.
But if (which God forbid)
the whole community should agree to choose a person
who will acquiesce in their vices,
and if those vices somehow become known to the Bishop
to whose diocese the place belongs,
or to the Abbots, Abbesses or the faithful of the vicinity,
let them prevent the success of this conspiracy of the wicked,
and set a worthy steward over the house of God.
They may be sure
that they will receive a good reward for this action
if they do it with a pure intention and out of zeal for God;
as, on the contrary, they will sin if they fail to do it.
Monasteries can forget sometimes that they are not their own, one of
the unavoidable risks of Benedictine autonomy. While it was usual, in
St. Benedict's day, for monasteries to be under their local bishop
(and still is usual in the East today,) St. Benedict says something
even more telling. The local laity should intervene if the monastery
conspires to elect a loser! Now THAT is going a long way!
Monasteries become dear to those around them, and a sense of
ownership for their local monastery arises in many hearts. St.
Benedict actually endorses that. The monk is not his own, but neither
is the whole community. We belong to the Church, we belong to our own
locale, we belong to the people in a very special way. It entitles
them to warn us that we may have gone amiss and it obliges us to
always recall that our monasteries have ripple effects!
Many of us in the workplace or school, some of us even in marriage,
are forced to deal with people who were NOT chosen for their "merit
of life and wisdom of doctrine." That can be very tough, but grace
and the Holy Rule are there to strengthen us.
The single most important thing one governed can do to thwart bad
government is NOT to mirror the behavior which is at fault. Two
wrongs can never make a right. All too often, for whatever reason,
people push our buttons and get exactly the sick response from us
that they sickly need. Try not to let that happen. Put a control on
your buttons. Never stoop to the level that annoys you, and believe
me, that stooping is easy to do. It is even commonly (the adjective
here is no accidental choice!!) done.
Hard and perennial truth, but most of the things which annoy us most
in others are our own sins, in one form or another. We are rarely so
vigilant or crusading about other matters. We might reflect those
faults in different areas, in different ways, but this can only help
us in denial. Look, look very carefully at the person who makes you
the most angry. Most of us will not have to look honestly for very
long to see why we are affected strongly.
On another note entirely, for Oblates who are single and dating, what
about using the criteria given for an Abbess for checking out a mate?
Granted the pickings might be slim, but we should always look to
people who are good, who will help us grow spiritually as potential
partners. This age, when so many are unchurched, may have convinced
many single folks that spirituality is something they can do alone,
without their partners. Well, sometimes it is, to be sure, but it is
a harder road. Indifference is one thing, but if a partner is
downright opposed, it can be a VERY hard road.
Love and prayers,