Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 70: That No One Venture to Punish at Random, December 28, 2016

April 28, August 28, December 28

Chapter 70: That No One Venture to Punish at Random

Every occasion of presumption

shall be avoided in the monastery,

and we decree that no one be allowed

to excommunicate or to strike any of her sisters

unless the Abbess has given her the authority.

Those who offend in this matter

shall be rebuked in the presence of all,

that the rest may have fear.

But children up to 15 years of age

shall be carefully controlled and watched by all,

yet this too with all moderation and discretion.

All, therefore, who presume

without the Abbess’ instructions

to punish those above that age

or who lose their temper with them,

shall undergo the discipline of the Rule;

for it is written,

“Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself” (Tobias

4:16).

Some thoughts

Must admit, my mind reels with all that I could say. Hard to distill out just one or 2. It is so very easy, all too easy, to think of entirely too many examples when a person or a group of people have taken upon themselves to right what they perceive as wrongs: vigilantes; those who commit hate crimes; people we run into every single day who are unable to mind their own business and go around correcting people.

Something else that comes to mind is appropriate boundaries and limits. Of course, that is also part of minding one’s own business. Seems to me the use of the “should/would/could” language is a very clear indication of when we have exceeded appropriate boundaries and limits and have started to mind someone else’s business. “So and so should…” “If only X would” “You could…”

Of course, we are not always intrusive buttinskis when we use these words. But all too often we are. All we have to do is reflect on how we feel when we are on the receiving end to know how someone else feels when we say this stuff to them.

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