April 26, August 26, December 26
Chapter 68: If a Sister Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things
If it happens
that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a sister,
let her nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority
with all meekness and obedience.
But if she sees that the weight of the burden
altogether exceeds the limit of her strength,
let her submit the reasons for her inability
to the one who is over her
in a quiet way and at an opportune time,
without pride, resistance, or contradiction.
And if after these representations
the Superior still persists in her decision and command,
let the subject know that this is for her good,
and let her obey out of love,
trusting in the help of God.
Something that always surprises me when I read this bit is that deals solely with the monastic’s physical abilities. There is no provision for a monastic’s possible crisis of conscience. We are very fond of holding out in case of a conscience problem. People pick and choose among the tenets of Christian faith citing their conscience. Obviously, Benedict doesn’t plan for the possibility that the monastic would ever be asked to do something that went against the conscience.
The monastery is a school for the Lord, as Benedict writes in an earlier chapter. The Christians who enter therein are presupposed to be thought willing to submit to all God has laid out in Scripture. The Rule is, after all, 95% Scripture. No picking and choosing among aspects of the Christian faith. One embraces it all.
Are we as willing as St. Benedict’s monks to embrace it all?