Rule of St Benedict: Chapter 66: On the Porters of the Monastery, December 24, 2016

April 24, August 24, December 24

Chapter 66: On the Porters of the Monastery

At the gate of the monastery

let there be placed a wise old woman,

who knows how to receive and to give a message,

and whose maturity will prevent her from straying about.

This porter should have a room near the gate,

so that those who come may always find someone at hand

to attend to their business.

And as soon as anyone knocks or a poor person hails her,

let her answer “Thanks be to God” or “A blessing!”

Then let her attend to them promptly,

with all the meekness inspired by the fear of God

and with the warmth of charity.

Should the porter need help,

let her have one of the younger sisters.

If it can be done,

the monastery should be so established

that all the necessary things,

such as water, mill, garden and various workshops,

may be within the enclosure,

so that there is no necessity

for the sisters to go about outside of it,

since that is not at all profitable for their souls.

We desire that this Rule be read often in the community,

so that none of the sisters may excuse herself

on the ground of ignorance.

Some Thoughts:

I dunno if I could think of a more perfect reading from the RB for Christmas Eve than this. Could you? We know from the chapter on Receiving Guests, that all are to be received as if they were Jesus. Who is it who first extends such a welcome but the porter?

When I answer the door to an unexpected knock, I confess my first thought is not “Thanks be to God” or “a Blessing.” Is yours? Mine is more apt to be “Is this another solicitor?” Or “who the heck is this interrupting me?” Not exactly receiving this visitor as if they were Christ, now is it?

Come Thou long expected Jesus and may the room you find in our hearts allow us to make room for all cross our path.

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