Prayers for Cliff Gawne-Mark, please, as he makes his final Oblation
at St. John's Abbey! Ad multos annos, Cliff!
April 8, August 8, December 8
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
For bedding let this suffice:
a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.
The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
to see if any private property be found in them.
If anyone should be found to have something
that he did not receive from the Abbot,
let him undergo the most severe discipline.
And in order that this vice of private ownership
may be cut out by the roots,
the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
that all pretext of need may be taken away.
Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need"
In this manner, therefore,
let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
and not the ill-will of the envious.
But in all his decisions
let him think about the retribution of God.
This chapter may appear to have little to say to Oblates until one
gives a more evangelical twist to it: "where your treasure is, there
your heart shall be also." The monastic who has separate sources of
income has a safety net, a way to ask for things (or get them without
asking!) that would otherwise unlikely be available. Not only is this
bad for the common unity, it is bad for the monastic, too. It
scatters one's focus and diminishes one's dependency on God. It
leaves dangling threads of control all over one's life.
Oblates in the world, have to have some source of income, whatever
that may be, but they can readily and profitably examine where their
treasure lies. They can also make sure that those who depend on them
have all they truly need, yet keep them from getting spoiled or
carried away with consumerist fluff. Especially at this holiday
season, when the television is filled with a horrendous glut of
materialist orgy, our Benedictine hearts should say: "Enough really
IS enough!" But do we say that, or are we to some degree sucked into
the lunacy of a secular winter fest? (One can no longer even
say "pagan" of the secular winter fest. At least the pagans, whatever
their lacks may be, believe in SOMETHING and worship. That can no
longer be said of much of the world's hoopla at this time of year.)
Benedictine attitudes toward poverty are not deprivation, but they
are not excess, either. Always, always moderation. For us, virtue
truly does stand in the middle way!
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA