January 12, May 13, September 12
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Let her make no distinction of persons in the monastery.
Let her not love one more than another,
unless it be one whom she finds better
in good works or in obedience.
Let her not advance one of noble birth
ahead of one who was formerly a slave,
unless there be some other reasonable ground for it.
But if the Abbess for just reason think fit to do so,
let her advance one of any rank whatever.
Otherwise let them keep their due places;
because, whether slaves or free, we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28)
and bear in equal burden of service
in the army of the same Lord.
For with God there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2:11).
Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight:
if we be found better than others in good works and humility.
Therefore let the Abbess show equal love to all
and impose the same discipline on all
according to their deserts.
Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if every single person in the world practiced this? I know you are saying, “Dream on, Gloriamarie”. Can we all see how irrelevant are the world’s view of worthiness is to St. Benedict? Right out of Galatians. We are one in Christ and within the Body of Christ all service to God and neighbor is equal. None is more important than the rest. Somewhere else in the Rule, it says that the only form of rank in his monastery is the length of time one has been there.
Clearly, the Abbess/Abbot keeps watch over the monastics to discern what a person might need in order to do better. Do you have someone like that in your life? I don’t know about you, but I am so very grateful to have a spiritual director because she sees things in me I don’t. How I need that for balance, moderation and a perspective adjustment. My best friend frequently tells me I need a perspective adjustment and is only too happy to give it to me.
Would you agree with me that something else we can take away from today’s reading is the need for discernment? That we need to develop it? That we need others to discern for us sometimes?