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Dec 29

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  • russophile2002 <jeromeleo@earthlink.net>
    +PAX Well, it may be the feast of the Holy Family, but for all you Anglophiles out there, happy feast of St. Thomas a Becket, who got bumped by the Sunday this
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 29, 2002

      Well, it may be the feast of the Holy Family, but for all you
      Anglophiles out there, happy feast of St. Thomas a Becket, who got
      bumped by the Sunday this year! JL

      April 29, August 29, December 29

      Chapter 71: That the Brethren Be Obedient to One

      Not only is the boon of obedience
      to be shown by all to the Abbot,
      but the brethren are also to obey one another,
      knowing that by this road of obedience they are going to God.
      Giving priority, therefore, to the commands of the Abbot
      and of the Superior appointed by him
      (to which we allow no private orders to be preferred),
      for the rest
      let all the juniors obey their seniors
      with all charity and solicitude.
      But if anyone is found contentious,
      let him be corrected.

      And if any brother,
      for however small a cause,
      is corrected in any way by the Abbot or by any of his Superiors,
      or if he faintly perceives
      that the mind of any Superior is angered or moved against him,
      however little,
      let him at once, without delay,
      prostrate himself on the ground at his feet
      and lie there making satisfaction
      until that emotion is quieted with a blessing.
      But if anyone should disdain to do this,
      let him undergo corporal punishment
      or, if he is stubborn, let him be expelled from the monastery.


      Cease fires are necessary in any family, so are truces, but one thing
      that has no place in Benedictine life is permanent cold war. That's
      why this chapter ends with a threat of expulsion. It is a solemn
      reminder that peace consist of much more than merely the absence of
      active conflict. Permanent rifts cannot remain so. They must be
      bridged and compromised in one degree or another, otherwise one will
      never have unity. Pockets and cliques and parties will arise and
      these are (trust me!) VERY unhealthy in a Benedictine milieu. They
      can even be fatal.

      This idea of mutual obedience is but another helpful step in the
      journey away from ego, away from the false self we all cherish so
      foolishly. It is useful, but not an end in itself. I can recall that
      there were things we didn't do at St. Leo while Brother X. was alive
      that we all cheerfully returned to doing once he was dead, no regrets
      at all. The constraints had served their purpose. They had made us,
      in Brother X.'s time less selfish. Once he died, it was back to
      morally neutral business as usual!!

      The brethren also allowed the same Brother X to make some rather
      inexplicable "landscaping" decisions, viewing this as therapy that
      kept him busy and out of harm's way. They were annoying enough as
      seedlings, but now Brother X has gone to God and St. Leo is blessed
      with some rather eccentrically placed fully grown trees in his
      memory. He just lived too long to justify digging them up and
      besides, most people were used to them by the time he died. A good
      monastic family will learn not to be unduly fussy about such things.

      Mutual obedience is a great courtesy of love, but it is hardly the
      big deal that our selfish ego would love to make it. It truly costs
      very little to make others happy, to let others live. As my dear
      Father Damian of St. leo used to say: "If it gives him so much
      pleasure and me so little pain, why not?" Such a standard of behavior
      can do welcome and necessary damage to a selfish heart!

      Love and prayers,

      Jerome, OSB

      jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA
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