February 27, June 28, October 28
Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery
If the community is a large one,
let there be chosen out of it
brethren of good repute and holy life,
and let them be appointed deans.
These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,
observing the commandments of God
and the instructions of their Abbot.
Let men of such character be chosen deans
that the Abbot may with confidence
share his burdens among them.
Let them be chosen not by rank
but according to their worthiness of life
and the wisdom of their doctrine.
If any of these deans should become inflated with pride
and found deserving of censure,
let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time.
If he will not amend,
then let him be deposed
and another be put in his place who is worthy of it.
And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.
It’s a hard job to be the monastic superior. Benedict outlines the job at the beginning of the Rule in Chapter Two. Benedict thought the ideal number of people in a community was twelve but even so, he made provision within his Rule for the Abbot/Abbess to select those to whom responsibility could be delegated, such as guests, the farm, care of the sick, food and meals, etc.
Deans are under the authority of God and their monastic superior. As leaders of the community, they also were to model how to live the Rule.
Whenever I read this chapter, I always find myself thinking of the various people who have had authority over me such as teachers or people at work. Most of my teachers were people who loved doing what they did and so lived up to what Benedict writes. But out in the workplace, oy vey, all the petty dictators there can be in corporate USA.
Something else I think about when I read this is politicians. Good repute? Holy lives? People of character? Worthy lives? Wisdom? I just wish all politicians were people of this ilk but instead all too many of them are clearly inflated with pride.