Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be, October 31, 2016

March 1, July 1, October 31

Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be

The measure of excommunication or of chastisement

should correspond to the degree of fault,

which degree is estimated by the judgment of the Abbess.

If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults,

let her be excluded from the common table.

Now the program for one deprived of the company of the table

shall be as follows:

In the oratory she shall intone neither Psalm nor antiphon

nor shall she recite a lesson

until she has made satisfaction;

in the refectory she shall take her food alone

after the community meal,

so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance,

that sister shall eat at the ninth,

while if they eat at the ninth hour

she shall eat in the evening,

until by a suitable satisfaction she obtains pardon.

Some thoughts

How shall you love your neighbor? (The same) As yourself. Mark 12:31

The community of my neighbors, then, is to be as important in my eyes  as I myself am. If (when!) I fail at that difficult prioritization, the community has a measured way to correct me. It can withhold for a time some of the privileges of community. Is this to scold? I think it is  more to remind me that I desire community and to have it, I must offer  community to others. I may not put my brethren below my  needs/habits/desires. They — you– must be same as (not an inconvenient afterthought) to me.

This is not especially monastic, per se (actually, in many ways The Rule, being largely a recasting of Scripture is not especially

exclusively monastic). Most communities do something like this more or  less instinctively . Where the Rule shines is that it is a measured and appropriate response tempered by love for the offending party and always seeking to bring the offending party back into harmony.

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