March 3, July 3, November 2
Chapter 26: On Those Who Without an Order Associate with the Excommunicated
If any sister presumes
without an order from the Abbess
to associate in any way with an excommunicated sister,
or to speak with her,
or to send her a message,
let her incur a similar punishment of excommunication.
At first glance, this seems mean, petty, and unfair. But let’s think about it dispassionately. What is the point of the excommunication? To correct the behavior and change the heart of someone who continually does wrong within the monastic community. Allowed to continue without discipline, this behavior could disrupt and even destroy the community.
Remember that as far as Benedict is concerned, a monastic superior is God’s representative the monastic community, a vicar of Christ, who is selected for this role after long, hard, consideration. Monastics place their trust in their superior to be a good spiritual director and sometimes even knowing better than the monastics what each needs to thrive in holiness.
Therefore, were a monastic to hang out with, chat with someone under excommunication, this is undermining the authority of the monastic superior, what in the military would be referred to as an act of insubordination.
Benedict alway wants the very best for the community which is people dedicated to the pursuit of holiness.