Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters, December 11, 2016

Today’s reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 11, August 11, December 11

Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,

let her not be granted an easy entrance;

but, as the Apostle says,

“Test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”

If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,

and if it is seen after four or five days

that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her

and the difficulty of admission,

and that she persists in her petition,

then let entrance be granted her,

and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

After that let her live in the novitiate,

where the novices study, eat and sleep.

A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,

to watch over them with the utmost care.

Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,

and whether she is zealous

for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.

Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways

by which the journey to God is made.

If she promises stability and perseverance,

then at the end of two months

let this rule be read through to her,

and let her be addressed thus:

“Here is the law under which you wish to fight.

If you can observe it, enter;

if you cannot, you are free to depart.”

If she still stands firm,

let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate

and again tested in all patience.

And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,

that she may know on what she is entering.

And if she still remains firm,

after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

Then, having deliberated with herself,

if she promises to keep it in its entirety

and to observe everything that is commanded,

let her be received into the community.

But let her understand that,

according to the law of the Rule,

from that day forward she may not leave the monastery

nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule

which she was free to refuse or to accept

during that prolonged deliberation.

Some Thoughts:

As one who has knocked at doors to discern if such and such is the place to which God calls me, I can attest that patience is definitely needed!! At issue, of course, is the validity of the call. If someone is hungry enough for God, they will do what it takes, bear what they must. Those who will not or cannot for whatever reason, demonstrate that God is not the most central and primary relationship in their lives. It may seem harsh, but the truth of the matter is that the monastic life is no easy. It is hard. It has been a truism for centuries, borne out by centuries of monastic reformation, renewal and stories of the lives of monastics that when the monastic life is easy, one isn’t doing it right. Conversion of life, after all, is hard work.

So what can we glean from today’s reading for our own lives? Anything that God calls us to is worth the effort? The struggle? The hardship? Each and every day, God calls each and everyone of us into relationship with Him. God calls each one of us to our vocation which is to say to our truest identity hidden within Him. Is knowing God and being known by Him worth it?


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