Prayers, please, for Sr. Rolande, near death, and for Mother St.
Mark, OSB, Tyburn nun of Largs, who died yesterday. Prayers, too, for
BC's efforts to found a cancer support group in her parish. God's
will is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much. JL
January 15, May 16, September 15
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Above all let her not neglect or undervalue
the welfare of the souls committed to her,
in a greater concern for fleeting, earthly, perishable things;
but let her always bear in mind
that she has undertaken the government of souls
and that she will have to give an account of them.
And if she be tempted to allege a lack of earthly means,
let her remember what is written:
"First seek the kingdom of God and His justice,
and all these things shall be given you besides" (Ps. 33:10).
"Nothing is wanting to those who fear Him."
Let her know, then,
that she who has undertaken the government of souls
must prepare herself to render an account of them.
Whatever number of sisters she knows she has under her care,
she may be sure beyond doubt that on Judgment Day
she will have to give the Lord an account of all these souls,
as well as of her own soul.
Thus the constant apprehension
about her coming examination as shepherd (Ezech. 34)
concerning the sheep entrusted to her,
and her anxiety over the account that must be given for others,
make her careful of her own record.
And while by her admonitions she is helping others to amend,
she herself is cleansed of her faults.
There are two beautiful lessons for us non-abbatial types in this
chapter. The first is a partial Benedictine view of material goods
and the second consoles us that teaching will hopefully also teach
The Benedictine view of property is neither complete nor correct
without the principle invoked here. Yes, later on we hear that all
the goods of the monastery must be regarded as if they were sacred
vessels of the altar. We also hear a lot of attentive prescriptions
about poverty and ownership. Either of these made dogma without the
third principle will spell trouble. That third principle, enunciated
here, is "people first, things later; don't sweat the small stuff and
things are ALWAYS small stuff by comparison to souls."
A good Benedictine will go to careful lengths to avoid breaking a
something, but will treat it lightly if someone else does: "Oh,
that's no big deal. I'll tend to it later." or "Dishes I can replace,
YOU I cannot. Don`t worry about it." See what I mean? We must be
personally very careful of things, but we must never make others feel
small, and least of all in the name of temporal goods.
The other gem buried here is learning from teaching. Anyone who has
ever taught 5th grade science will tell you that it will teach you
more than the average person at a party knows about the topic.
(Unless the party is given at Massachusetts Institute of Technology!)
It will remind you of a great deal of basic information that you have
long forgotten. Teaching, ideally, keeps one up to date on a subject.
If teaching alone doesn't do that, the questions of the students
Look at that last line: if you do ANY vocation right, it will profit
both you and those you serve. It may not always profit both in
exactly the same ways, but there will always be supernatural benefits
for both. If there aren't, some fine-tuning might be in order. An
example might well be parents who raise a child to practice the faith
when they themselves do not. I'm sure there must be some roaring
exception out there somewhere, a miracle of grace, but I have never
known a child to practice beyond high school when raised that way.
Sending a kid to Church without you is good for neither of you. The
kid loses a necessary role model and the parent misses out on a lot
So, one of the ways to ensure that supernatural benefit accrues for
all in a vocation is outlined here: put the souls first, put the
Kingdom of God and His things first. A closely related corollary
follows on that: people before things, always, always, people before
things! Whatever the faults and flaws of humanity, it shares a
dignity of blessed creation that does not extend to material things
as such. That's the basic truth which makes materialism so woefully
Follow the priority established here and you will be well on the way
to a holy and fruitful living out of any call. It is as easy as
1,2,3! First, God and His kingdom, second, people, persons, the crown
of His mercy's creations, and third things, but only insofar as they
relate significantly to God and persons!
Love and prayers,