February 5, June 6, October 6
Chapter 7: On Humility
The eighth degree of humility
is that a monk do nothing except what is commended
by the common Rule of the monastery
and the example of the elders.
This is another place where Benedict, did he but know it, challenges our modern confusion of individualism and individuality. Or perhaps individualism was alive and well back then too. The comments he makes about gyrovagues and sarabites in the first chapter leads me to believe this is true.
We already know that Benedict has no truck with those who would buck tradition or make it up as they go along. Perhaps Benedict views this degree of humility as the one that demonstrates the sincerity of purpose to follow and embrace our Lord? Perhaps also an expression of one’s originality is not a right but a privilege to be earned?
This portion of the RB also speaks about being under authority. Perhaps some of us who live in certain parts of the world will find this a challenging concept. Give up one’s free will into the keeping of someone else? Might be a horrifying idea to some.
But let us remember how Benedict views the situation. The Abbess/Abbot is God’s representative in the monastery. The common Rule of the monastery supports the relationships between monastics, each other, and their superior. Those who have been in the monastery longer are role models for the newer members.
That’s in a monastery. Most people reading this are not members of a monastic community so how do we practice this eighth degree of humility. Perhaps we are members of a group or an organization that has internal rules? Perhaps we have a spiritual friend or a spiritual director? We all live in municipal communities and there are certain laws that have been established for the common good. What other examples occur to you?