Prayers, please, for Kevin Murphy, brain surgfery for a tumor, and
for his family, also for Julia P., in ICU after a heart attack, and
for Mark, a busy father who has the dangerous type of flu. God's will
is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much. JL
April 21, August 21, December 21
Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess
Once she has been constituted,
let the Abbess always bear in mind
what a burden she has undertaken
and to whom she will have to give an account of her stewardship,
and let her know that her duty is rather to profit her sisters
than to preside over them.
She must therefore be learned in the divine law,
that she may have a treasure of knowledge
from which to bring forth new things and old.
She must be chaste, sober and merciful.
Let her exalt mercy above judgment,
that she herself may obtain mercy.
She should hate vices;
she should love the sisterhood.
In administering correction
she should act prudently and not go to excess,
lest in seeking too eagerly to scrape off the rust
she break the vessel.
Let her keep her own frailty ever before her eyes
and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken.
By this we do not mean that she should allow vices to grow;
on the contrary, as we have already said,
she should eradicate them prudently and with charity,
in the way which may seem best in each case.
Let her study rather to be loved than to be feared.
Let her not be excitable and worried,
nor exacting and headstrong,
nor jealous and over-suspicious;
for then she is never at rest.
In her commands let her be prudent and considerate;
and whether the work which she enjoins
concerns God or the world,
let her be discreet and moderate,
bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said,
"If I cause my flocks to be overdriven,
they will all die in one day."
Taking this, then, and other examples of discretion,
the mother of virtues,
let her so temper all things
that the strong may have something to strive after,
and the weak may not fall back in dismay.
And especially let her keep this Rule in all its details,
so that after a good ministry
she may hear from the Lord what the good servant heard
who gave the fellow-servants wheat in due season:
"Indeed, I tell you, he will set that one over all his goods" (Matt.
Anyone reading this would perhaps quite rightly think: "Wow! That's a
pretty tall order to fill!" They would, of course, be right.
Now for the clincher: this is not just a model for Abbots, but for
all of us with any authority, in fact, for all of us period. This is
the way Benedictines should treat others, seniors, juniors, all
people. This Christ-like attitude ought to pervade every parent,
teacher, boss, nurse and grocery clerk, all of us. For every one of
us the model here is exquisite. Read it over and over and etch it
into your very heart. This is St. Benedict at his best!
"Now THAT," he said in an unusually short reflection, "is a REALLY
tall order!" Sure is! You can only do it with grace, with prayer and
God's all-merciful help.
Love and prayers,