January 15, May 16, September 15
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Above all let her not neglect or undervalue
the welfare of the souls committed to her,
in a greater concern for fleeting, earthly, perishable things;
but let her always bear in mind
that she has undertaken the government of souls
and that she will have to give an account of them.
And if she be tempted to allege a lack of earthly means,
let her remember what is written:
“First seek the kingdom of God and His justice,
and all these things shall be given you besides” (Ps. 33:10).
“Nothing is wanting to those who fear Him.”
Let her know, then,
that she who has undertaken the government of souls
must prepare herself to render an account of them.
Whatever number of sisters she knows she has under her care,
she may be sure beyond doubt that on Judgment Day
she will have to give the Lord an account of all these souls,
as well as of her own soul.
Thus the constant apprehension
about her coming examination as shepherd (Ezech. 34)
concerning the sheep entrusted to her,
and her anxiety over the account that must be given for others,
make her careful of her own record.
And while by her admonitions she is helping others to amend,
she herself is cleansed of her faults.
Other parts of this chapter dealt with the abbess/abbot’s relationship with the monastics in their care. This chapter reads to me as if it is dealing with the relationship the abbess/abbot ought to have with God.
Would you see this as a possible role model for any of us who might be in authority over others? What are all the things such a person has to consider?
As I read the first section, it sounds very much to me as if the issue is the primary consideration is the welfare of those under another’s authority. That’s something we could all be concerned about, isn’t it?
What are some of the other qualities required? How would you apply them in your daily life?