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Dec. 29

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX April 29, August 29, December 29 Chapter 71: That the Brethren Be Obedient to One Another Not only is the boon of obedience to be shown by all to the
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      April 29, August 29, December 29
      Chapter 71: That the Brethren Be Obedient to One Another

      Not only is the boon of obedience
      to be shown by all to the Abbot,
      but the brethren are also to obey one another,
      knowing that by this road of obedience they are going to God.
      Giving priority, therefore, to the commands of the Abbot
      and of the Superior appointed by him
      (to which we allow no private orders to be preferred),
      for the rest
      let all the juniors obey their seniors
      with all charity and solicitude.
      But if anyone is found contentious,
      let him be corrected.

      And if any brother,
      for however small a cause,
      is corrected in any way by the Abbot or by any of his Superiors,
      or if he faintly perceives
      that the mind of any Superior is angered or moved against him,
      however little,
      let him at once, without delay,
      prostrate himself on the ground at his feet
      and lie there making satisfaction
      until that emotion is quieted with a blessing.
      But if anyone should disdain to do this,
      let him undergo corporal punishment
      or, if he is stubborn, let him be expelled from the monastery.

      REFLECTION

      OK, now we're getting into radical. Any human group, from the
      military to a kindergarten at recess expects one to obey the leader.
      But each other? Give me a break! How many jobs would you have quit if
      you had to obey all of your co-workers?

      Well, giving a break is exactly what is intended here. The Kingdom of
      God, which the Holy Rule seeks to guide us to, is ruled by love, not
      hierarchy per se. It includes a hierarchy, yes, but that, too, is
      founded on love. The Kingdom of God strives for peace and serenity.
      The quickest way to soften an environment and let peace flourish is
      to keep people more or less happy, and the quickest way to do that is
      to give in to their legitimate wishes whenever possible.

      Now we're getting to the heroic stuff. There are ulterior benefits to
      obeying the boss, but another peer? What's the big deal there? The
      big deal is love, the big deal is forgetfulness of self, the big deal
      is the abdication of control issues.

      Monastic struggle will not free one who is attached to control. It
      will thwart the good of the struggle. Don't beat yourself up too
      badly on this one if you live in the world, because many, many
      monastics in cloisters fail it as well. It is one of Satan's
      sneakiest tricks and he enjoys its effectiveness immensely. What
      could be better than something the poor victims hardly notice at all,
      that eats up their hard work like a ravenous cancer? Very, very handy.

      I am tempted to say that anyone who is addicted to control- at any
      stage of monastic life- ought to be set to cleaning bathrooms until
      the feeling passes. Hey, that would be a great idea, but most
      monasteries do not have that many toilets. Sad, but true. Rather than
      worry about the pathetic individuals so addicted, who can make life
      so unpleasant for those they live with, why not just focus on
      changing ourselves? We can be part of the solution. We can go out of
      our way to make life easier for each other. We can pray for those who
      don't.

      A horrible truth of monastic life is that if one waits for everyone
      to get perfect (according, of course, to one's own standards!) the
      result will be futile and frustrated stagnation. Community we may be,
      but all on the same page we shall never be till heaven, and maybe not
      even there!

      It's a snap to be a pain. Any fool can pull that off with no effort at
      all. Lots of them do, all the time! The harvest, however, is
      isolation and loneliness, which result in bitterness that only fuels
      the vicious cycle.

      In contrast, it is a bit difficult at first to be easy, but it is
      ALSO addictive when done right! One will soon be hunting for ways to
      be easy, because every drop of water makes the ocean a tiny bit less
      salty. The harvest, too, is far more precious: a growing warmth that
      makes one ever more gentle, more open, more loving and glad to be so.
      The harvest is joy and love, not the lie of possession and bitterness.

      It is very unlikely that you will ever be able to cure a control
      freak. Give them a lot of room, because (harsh saying here!) they are
      truly a danger to your soul. Cultivate among your peers an attitude
      of complete non-control, of nearly total indifference to detail,
      rather like the old peace poster that said: "What if they gave a war
      and no one came?".

      Maybe, just maybe, the wizard might one day wake up to actually see
      that Oz is not with her! That's about your only hope. People like
      this can profit us by being crosses and we can grow from praying for
      them, but getting sucked into their hopelessly false view of reality
      is a fatal mistake.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA
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