April 10, August 10, December 10
Chapter 57: On the Artisans of the Monastery
If there are artisans in the monastery,
let them practice their crafts with all humility,
provided the Abbot has given permission.
But if any one of them becomes conceited
over his skill in his craft,
because he seems to be conferring a benefit on the monastery,
let him be taken from his craft
and no longer exercise it unless,
after he has humbled himself,
the Abbot again gives him permission.
If any of the work of the craftsmen is to be sold,
those responsible for the sale
must not dare to practice any fraud.
Let them always remember Ananias and Saphira,
who incurred bodily death (Acts 5:1-11),
lest they and all who perpetrate fraud
in monastery affairs
suffer spiritual death.
And in the prices let not the sin of avarice creep in,
but let the goods always be sold a little cheaper
than they can be sold by people in the world,
“that in all things God may be glorified” (1 Peter 4:11).
Please correct me if I am wrong, but it appears to me in this chapter that Benedict stresses both a spiritual and a material poverty.
Spiritual in that an artist’s gift is for God and the community and is no more of a contribution than the exercise of any one else’s gift. When it comes to the service of the Body of Christ, it is all quite egalitarian: we each give what we have and take only what we need.
Material poverty seems to be the theme of the second stanza. Wouldn’t I just love to read this out loud in the boardrooms of USA corporations!! “Let the goods always be sold a little cheaper”. What a concept!!
This also speaks to me about the discussion of those Christmas ads: fraud; deceit, avarice… I could go on…