April 25, August 25, December 25
Chapter 67: On Brethren Who Are Sent on a Journey
Let the brethren who are sent on a journey
to the prayers of all the brethren and of the Abbot;
and always at the last prayer of the Work of God
let a commemoration be made of all absent brethren.
When brethren return from a journey,
at the end of each canonical Hour of the Work of God
on the day they return,
let them lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory
and beg the prayers of all
on account of any faults
that may have surprised them on the road,
through the seeing or hearing of something evil,
or through idle talk.
And let no one presume to tell another
whatever he may have seen or heard outside of the monastery,
because this causes very great harm.
But if anyone presumes to do so,
let him undergo the punishment of the Rule.
And let him be punished likewise who would presume
to leave the enclosure of the monastery
and go anywhere or do anything, however small,
without an order from the Abbot.
“Custody of the senses” is a concept that has very much gone out of style. It dealt with protecting one’s self from occasions of sin by keeping one’s eyes lowered as one walks so one would not see evil, busying one’s mind with repetitive prayer so one would not hear or see evil, tucking one’s arms in one’s sleeves so one would not touch evil. Basically, a very serious form of minding one’s own business so that one would not notice those things which would distract one’s self from the Lord.
I don’t know about you, but I find custody of the senses almost impossible to practice. Do you feel as bombarded as I with all the temptations present? Do you, as do I, want to talk about it and unburden yourself of the outrage you feel? Ah, but Benedict says to keep our mouths shut. We must bear the burden alone with God.