Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“A group of monks living in our own days were condemned by other monks for having many modern conveniences and comforts, which their abbot allowed them to use with discretion.

“The monks who made the condemnation were so violent in their objections to the mode of life of the more comfortable monks, that a third group of monks intervened to chastise the objectors. One wise monk among them said: “Several of the monks whom you so violently condemn gave up more personal wealth, when they became monastics, than your entire family has probably known in the last few generations combined. We read in the desert Fathers of a monk who was scandalized by another monk, of high attainment, who, none the less, lived in some comfort. The former was brought to his senses when he realized that the latter monk had once had great wealth and rank. His life after becoming a monk represented the loss of many possessions and dignities. The monk who had been scandalized by this former rich man, however, had been born into poverty and had actually gained possessions in becoming a monk. This story applies quite aptly to the monks whom you are condemning.”

“The condemning monks slowly learned to restrain their judgments of others.”

This situation is not a new one.  St. Benedict addresses it in his own Rule. As Father Benedict writes, it is up to the monastic superior’s discretion.  And only up to the monastic superior.  It really is the business of no one else.

However, there will always be those who are judgemental without even knowing and I think that might be the case with the monks who object to what these other monks have.  Comfort and ease are relative, are they not?  Our sense of comfort and ease is based on what we are accustomed to in our lives. The monks who have more than the judgmental monks actually gave up more to become monks than did the judgemental monks. It may even be that the monks with more are much more uncomfortable in their monasteries than are the judgemental monks. I hope I am making sense.

It doesn’t say this in the Saying, but we should not be comparing what we have with what others have.  We are to thank God for what we do have and speak God at ll times. Not busy ourselves with the lives of others except to serve them.

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