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Jan. 16

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Joy, having stomach surgery today, and for her family. God s will is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL January 16, May
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 16, 2004
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      Prayers, please, for Joy, having stomach surgery today, and for her
      family. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL

      January 16, May 17, September 16
      Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

      Whenever any important business has to be done
      in the monastery,
      let the Abbot call together the whole community
      and state the matter to be acted upon.
      Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
      let him turn the matter over in his own mind
      and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
      The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
      is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.

      Let the brethren give their advice
      with all the deference required by humility,
      and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
      but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
      and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.

      However, just as it is proper
      for the disciples to obey their master,
      so also it is his function
      to dispose all things with prudence and justice.


      Benedictine government is not pure democracy, but it was a lot more
      representative than Church government in its time or, for that
      matter, our own. One wishes that both Church and state of today had a
      more Benedictine flavor!

      The Catholic Church actually had models in its early years that were
      MORE democratic than St. Benedict, the synagogue model and the
      charismatic, both more congregational in their aspects. Both were
      abandoned for the monarchial episcopate model connected with Antioch.
      The bishop became monarch and so it has largely remained. That model
      fell far below the Benedictine standard of at least consultative

      Over 15 centuries of Benedictine history, constitutions have divided
      the powers of abbot and community more specifically. There are times-
      not many, to be sure- when a chapter CAN thwart an abbot. There are
      times the abbot cannot act alone. But, by and large, our superiors
      have been left with a lot more power than the US President or the
      Queen of the United Kingdom, but less power than the average bishop.

      The way of St. Benedict is hardly mob rule, but it does ensure a
      voice to those governed, a voice that must be listened to, even when
      it is not definitive. How different the current scandals in the
      US might be if people only had as much voice as the Holy Rule allows.
      How clearly St. Benedict saw what would happen to a community in such
      an instance: the members would feel ripped off, and rightly so. Very
      important things had come to light, and the rank and file were left
      in the dark. Trust was violated and trust is the very foundation of

      There is no way at all that the world was ready for pure democracy in
      St. Benedict's time, in diocese or monastery. Large majorities of the
      populace were illiterate, few indeed were educated, and there were no
      means of mass communication. Whole empires, like the Aztec and Incan,
      rose without the slightest awareness that there were other people on
      the planet, nor was the rest of the world aware of them. I would be
      the last person to call for free elections in such a milieu. By
      contrast, it almost makes feudalism look like a really good idea for
      the times.

      And maybe it was, but it has ceased to be for our own time. There are
      clearly levels of education, communication and general ability in the
      population today that call for more participation, not less. Tough
      saying, but St. Benedict was writing for a society whose rank and
      file was largely full of dopes. True, they got a lot of their rough
      edges honed down in the monastic setting, but they were not as
      capable of contributing to decision-making as people are today.

      I am not writing this with an axe to grind, saying that the Church
      and world should follow the Benedictine model. (Though that would
      certainly be my personal wish.) What I am trying to point out is the
      perennial wealth and freshness to be found in St. Benedict's Holy
      Rule. Its wisdom is as germane today as it was 1,500 years ago. It
      bears the proud hallmark of both truth and wisdom: it is ageless.

      In Church and State, the people of the developed world are ready,
      willing, and quite capable of having a lot more say than antiquated
      standards have allowed them. No wonder the powers that be are
      terrified of that.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA
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