Deepest thanks from my aunt, cousins and me for all who prayed for us
during my uncle's death and funeral. God bless you all! Love, JL
April 7, August 7, December 7
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
Let clothing be given to the brethren
according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
and its climate;
for in cold regions more will be needed,
and in warm regions less.
This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.
We believe, however, that in ordinary places
the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
a scapular for work,
stockings and shoes to cover the feet.
The monks should not complain
about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
but be content with what can be found
in the district where they live and
can be purchased cheaply.
The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
that they be not too short for those who wear them,
but of the proper fit.
Let those who receive new clothes
always give back the old ones at once,
to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
when they receive new ones.
Those who are sent on a journey
shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
which they shall wash and restore on their return.
And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
than what they usually wear.
These they shall receive from the wardrobe
when they set out on a journey,
and restore when they return.
In England, far more than in the States, one can tell a great deal
about a person immediately by their accent. The information garnered
is not always favorable, either! Lots of assumptions, many of them
false, can be made. While this is true to a lesser extent in the
U.S., here's something that runs through many, many cultures like a
barometer of prejudgment: clothes.
We unconsciously size up a person at once by their attire. A person's
attire is falsely assumed to place them in this or that social and
economic category and they are usually treated according to the
assessor's prejudices thereafter. Never think for a moment that fine
clothes guarantee fine treatment. They may provoke quite the opposite
reaction in some people, scorn rather than deference may be the
If these prejudgments are not right (where do you think we got the
term "prejudice," anyway?) they are at least certainly human and
virtually universal. That's why St. Benedict, while not wishing to
surrender to such things, nevertheless did not wish his daughters and
sons to walk into a place with clothes that said loudly: "I am a
person of substance! Make sure you treat me nice." No, he wanted all
of us to dress cleanly and cheaply (a key term!) and with clothes
that fit well. He wanted us to be warm and cool as seasons demanded,
but he did not want excess ever.
That's where all this has a superb message for Oblates and monastics.
What do your clothes say? What do you think they say? How much
relation to reality does either have? Important questions all!
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA