Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 65: On the Prior of the Monastery, December 23, 2016

April 23, August 23, December 23

Chapter 65: On the Prior of the Monastery

To us, therefore, it seems expedient

for the preservation of peace and charity

that the Abbot have in his hands

the full administration of his monastery.

And if possible let all the affairs of the monastery,

as we have already arranged,

be administered by deans according to the Abbot’s directions.

Thus, with the duties being shared by several,

no one person will become proud.

But if the circumstances of the place require it,

or if the community asks for it with reason and with humility,

and the Abbot judges it to be expedient,

let the Abbot himself constitute as his Prior

whomsoever he shall choose

with the counsel of God-fearing brethren.

That Prior, however, shall perform respectfully

the duties enjoined on him by his Abbot

and do nothing against the Abbot’s will or direction;

for the more he is raised above the rest,

the more carefully should he observe the precepts of the Rule.

If it should be found that the Prior has serious faults,

or that he is deceived by his exaltation and yields to pride,

or if he should be proved to be a despiser of the Holy Rule,

let him be admonished verbally up to four times.

If he fails to amend,

let the correction of regular discipline be applied to him.

But if even then he does not reform,

let him be deposed from the office of Prior

and another be appointed in his place who is worthy of it.

And if afterwards he is not quiet and obedient in the community,

let him even be expelled from the monastery.

But the Abbot, for his part, should bear in mind

that he will have to render an account to God

for all his judgments,

lest the flame of envy or jealousy be kindled in his soul.

Some thoughts:

Does anyone else find it worthy of note that Benedict opened this chapter with all the things that could go wrong when someone holds the office of Prior? And that it is not until the second half that we find out he’d prefer there be no Prior at all?

I don’t know about you, but I certainly have worked in places where there were a great many prima donnas so full of themselves and their own importance that it made it difficult for others to do their jobs. Does it seem to you that Benedict would remind us that in any community, we must all work together at our own assignments, so to speak? That our egos must come out of the equation for the greater good?

My view of the Body of Christ is perhaps simplistic. I figure that by ourselves, no one of us can really do all that much. OTOH, if each one of was faithful and did the itty bitty we can, that collectively we would have accomplished a very great deal.

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