April 22, August 22, December 22
Chapter 65: On the Prior of the Monastery
It happens all too often that the constituting of a Prior
gives rise to grave scandals in monasteries.
For there are some who become inflated with the evil spirit of pride
and consider themselves second Abbots.
By usurping power
they foster scandals and cause dissensions in the community.
Especially does this happen
in those places where the Prior is constituted
by the same Bishop or the same Abbots
who constitute the Abbot himself.
What an absurd procedure this is
can easily be seen;
for it gives the Prior an occasion for becoming proud
from the very time of his constitution,
by putting the thought into his mind
that he is freed from the authority of his Abbot:
“For,” he will say to himself, “you were constituted
by the same persons who constitute the Abbot.”
From this source are stirred up envy, quarrels, detraction,
rivalry, dissensions and disorders.
For while the Abbot and the Prior are at variance,
their souls cannot but be endangered by this dissension;
and those who are under them,
currying favor with one side or the other,
go to ruin.
The guilt for this dangerous state of affairs
rests on the heads of those
whose action brought about such disorder.
Sorry to be so political again and maybe it is because I’ve seen one too many campaign ad recently, but as I read this passage, all I can think of is the in-fighting, back-biting, passing the buck, claiming credit where it is not due behavior of our politicians.
Something else that occurs to me is what a living document the RB is. It is so obvious that Benedict wrote in the crucible, as it were, of daily life in the monastery. Perhaps he was consulted by other Abbots in other monasteries using the Rule. Perhaps it is the organic nature of the Rule, added to and developed over a lifetime, that has allowed the Rule to be the dynamic and compelling document it is for us today.
Both the Bible and the RB come to us from real life situations, from that desire to live a life devoted to God. Gives me chills I find it so wondrous a thought.