January 17, May 18, September 17
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart’s fancy;
and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
But if anyone should presume to do so,
let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
At the same time,
the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
and in observance of the Rule,
knowing that beyond a doubt
he will have to render an account of all his decisions
to God, the most just Judge.
But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
be of lesser importance,
let him take counsel with the seniors only.
It is written,
“Do everything with counsel,
and you will not repent when you have done it” (Eccles. 32:24).
We couldn’t ask for it to be made any more plainly, could we? We Benedictines take the Rule as our guide and we are not to deviate from it. Easier said than done, of course. I’m always quick with that caveat.
I love the bit about “let no one follow his own heart’s fancy.” The history of Christianity is filled with people who did and look at the troubles they left behind.
I fear we in our day and age are contributing to the legacy of people following their own heart’s fancy as people decide which tenets of the Creeds or baptismal covenants are optional. One fellow Episcopalian, Marcus Borg, has even said that it doesn’t matter if Jesus rose from the dead or not. It sorrows me that a fellow Episcopalian would not regard the Resurrection as the very heart of the matter. We are redeemed not just because Jesus died on the cross but because He also arose from the dead.
Well, I digress… What was the point In was making? Oh yes, the Rule as our guide. Perhaps it is worth saying, and if I said it before perhaps it is worth repeating: living the RB is a means, not the end. The purpose of the Rule is to allow us to so open our hearts to God that He will create a garden for Himself there.
What could be more wonderful than that?