April 9, August 9, December 9
Chapter 56: On the Abbess's Table
Let the Abbess's table always be with the guests
and the pilgrims. But when there are no guests,
let it be in her power to invite whom she will of the sisters.
Yet one or two seniors must always be left with the others
for the sake of discipline.
The Abbess represents Christ, so of course it is her place to be
dining with the guests and pilgrims. Depending on the level of the
enclosure of the community, it also is her responsibility to do the
many little courtesies of hospitality that other monastics may not
do. She does this in the name of all.
There is a very useful application here for Oblates with children.
How do we treat out children's guests when they come to us? The fact
that someone is 14 and fraught with the usual chaos of teenagers does
not make them less of a guest. Both our children and their friends
will learn a lot by how we treat such guests. The guest will learn a
bit of self-esteem and the child host even more! Very few people are
willing to give children their due in the ordinary run of things.
Teaching your children that they are unique and important to you can
be best evidenced by treating their company well!
This, of course, is true of any group that is usually accorded less
respect. Oblates who live alone can be the Abbess or Abbot of their
own tables. Just make sure that the people there feel like the King
of All Who is received in them!
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA