Holy Rule for Feb. 29
Prayers, please, for Steve, just out of the hospital from a bout with
a bleeding ulcer, also for Alexandria, a stroke after multiple
surgeries, now in a coma and apparently dying. Prayers, too, for my
Dad, Jerome Hughes, on the anniversary of his death. God's will is
best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much. JL
February 29, June 30, October 30
Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults
(If there is no 29th of Feburary, append this entry to the previous.)
If a brother is found to be obstinate,
or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
If he fails to amend,
let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be placed under excommunication,
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
if he is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.
It is sad, indeed, that a chapter like this ever had to be written,
sad in St. Benedict's time, sad in our own. How little human beings
change in some ways! Why on earth would anyone come to a monastic
struggle with an attitude that says: "I know better. I'm right and
they're wrong."? Why would anyone persist in staying with such an
Because they are blind. It's another favorite trick of Satan. Blurred
or clouded assessments of the reality at hand are his forte.
Especially when these phony lenses get applied to religious matters,
the obstinacy and self-righteousness can go to extremes.
Look, beloveds, every single one of us, from the newest Oblate
candidate to the Abbot Primate, came to the monastic life, to the
Holy Rule, to be CHANGED. We came to learn, not to teach. We came to
reform ourselves, not the monastery. We not only arrived with that
attitude, we must keep it all of our lives. We came to surrender, not
That's why this chapter is both so very sad and so very important.
The monastic at any point in life who has renounced that attitude of
discipleship has abandoned the struggle. We must hope it is a
temporary abandonment, because it can be fatal to one's vocation. It
can undo all the good work we have behind us. It can delude us into
thinking we are persevering when we have actually long ago quit.
Superiors and community (or family!) can be a big reality check here
and that is what this chapter seeks to provide. Gentleness, love and
tact are in order, but something must be done. One must be very
careful at such times not to lord it over another smugly. But one
must also be very careful not to do nothing at all, especially if one
is in authority. The risk to the falling member is too great to
If, alas, you find yourself to be that falling member, for heaven's
sake (quite literally!) LISTEN. That is such a Benedictine trait, our
Holy Rule begins with that word. If others are that upset, there may
well be something wrong. Don't deny it. Check it out with all the
humility you can muster, but be very aware that your humility may
well be the thing that is currently terribly impaired. Be as honest
as truthful as you can. Try, try with all your strength, to let
yourself always be changed for the good, and strive to see that good,
even when it is hard.
If you are one of the lucky ones not in this leaking boat, be deeply
humbled and grateful to God. Pray every day for all of those in the
Order, the Church, the world, who are sinking. They need our prayers
badly. Think how different the Titanic might have been with enough
Love and prayers,