Ruleof St. Benedict: Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be, January 11, 2017

January 11, May 12, September 11
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

Therefore, when anyone receives the name of Abbess,
she ought to govern her disciples with a twofold teaching.
That is to say,
she should show them all that is good and holy
by her deeds even more than by her words,
expounding the Lord’s commandments in words
to the intelligent among her disciples,
but demonstrating the divine precepts by her actions
for those of harder hearts and ruder minds.
And whatever she has taught her disciples
to be contrary to God’s law,
let her indicate by her example that it is not to be done,
lest, while preaching to others, she herself be found reprobate (1 Cor.
and lest God one day say to her in her sin,
“Why do you declare My statutes
and profess My covenant with your lips,
whereas you hate discipline
and have cast My words behind you” (Ps. 49:16-17)?
And again,
“You were looking at the speck in your brother’s eye,
and did not see the beam in your own” (Matt. 7:3).


Some thoughts:
Did I mention this the last time we read this bit? St. Francis is said to have said “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.” Isn’t it so true, though, that what we do is remembered far more than what we say? That our actions reveal what we really believe far more than our words? Especially when the deeds and the words do not accord with each other.
I can think of so many ways in which my words and deeds don’t match up. I can get so caught up in the high of the approval of others, for instance, that I will really milk that. Or I can be so cast down by their disapproval that I want to spend the next month in bed with the covers over my head.
Neither response is a good one. Seems clear to me that the monastic superior, who is also elected to the position by the very monastics one is to govern, is one who has learned to be content with God. How much I long for this myself.

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