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Sep 15

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX 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
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      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).
      And again:
      "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 teacher!

      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 knocking a
      hole in the wall, but will treat it lightly if someone else
      does: "Oh, that's no big deal. I'll tend to it later." or "Walls 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
      usually will!

      Hopefully, it will be the same with any of us who are helping others
      on the road to spiritual growth. We will learn by teaching, we will
      be taught- and maybe sometimes shamed- by our own words!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA
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