January 16, May 17, September 16
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren’s advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.
Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot’s judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.
However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
Although the abbess/abbot is in charge, look what Benedict asks when there is something important to be decided upon: listen to what others have to say and then make a decision that is in everyone’s best interest. I love the bit about listening to the youngest. I wonder how it would affect family life if this model were followed?
Another image that forms in my mind is that of the Body of Christ. Another is the idea that all listen for the voice of the Lord. All
practice listening so that it is possible to recognize who it is to whom the Lord has spoken.
I personally love the bit about “not presume to stubbornly defend their own opinions”. How many church groups have been ruined by someone who did just that? Who put their own egos ahead of what is best for the whole?