Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery, February 27, 2017

February 27, June 28, October 28

Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery

If the community is a large one,

let there be chosen out of it

brethren of good repute and holy life,

and let them be appointed deans.

These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,

observing the commandments of God

and the instructions of their Abbot.

Let men of such character be chosen deans

that the Abbot may with confidence

share his burdens among them.

Let them be chosen not by rank

but according to their worthiness of life

and the wisdom of their doctrine.

If any of these deans should become inflated with pride

and found deserving of censure,

let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time.

If he will not amend,

then let him be deposed

and another be put in his place who is worthy of it.

And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.

Some thoughts:
 
Maybe I said this the last time around, but i find myself comparing this to the way our politicians handle themselves this primary season. Less said on that the better, I daresay.
 
Benedict lists qualities we all do well to develop: good reputation; holy living; observation of God’s commandments; worthiness of life; wisdom of their doctrine. Without the grace of God, companionship of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have zero chance to become such people. We have the Bible, the RB and the writings of our fellow Christians to help us.
 
Today in the Episcopal Church we honor that Caroline Divine, George Herbert.
 
from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:
 
 
¶ Faith.
 
Lord, how couldst thou so much appease
Thy wrath for sinne as, when mans sight was dimme,
And could see little, to regard his ease,
And bring by Faith all things to him?
 
Hungrie I was, and had no meat:
I did conceit a most delicious feast;
I had it straight, and did as truly eat,
As ever did a welcome guest.
 
There is a rare outlandish root,
Which when I could not get, I thought it here:
That apprehension cur’d so well my foot,
That I can walk to heav’n well neare.
 
I owed thousands and much more:
I did beleeve that I did nothing owe,
And liv’d accordingly; my creditor
Beleeves so too, and lets me go.
 
Faith makes me any thing, or all
That I beleeve is in the sacred storie:
And where sinne placeth me in Adams fall,
Faith sets me higher in his glorie.
 
If I go lower in the book,
What can be lower then the common manger?
Faith puts me there with him, who sweetly took
Our flesh and frailtie, death and danger.
 
If blisse had lein in art or strength,
None but the wise or strong had gained it:
Where now by Faith all arms are of a length;
One size doth all conditions fit.
 
A peasant may beleeve as much
As a great Clerk, and reach the highest stature.
Thus dost thou make proud knowledge bend & crouch,
While grace fills up uneven nature.
 
When creatures had no reall light
Inherent in them, thou didst make the sunne
Impute a lustre, and allow them bright;
And in this shew, what Christ hath done.
 
That which before was darkned clean
With bushie groves, pricking the lookers eie,
Vanisht away, when Faith did change the scene:
And then appear’d a glorious skie.
 
What though my bodie runne to dust?
Faith cleaves unto it, counting evr’y grain
With an exact and most particular trust,
Reserving all for flesh again.
 
Note on Stanzas 2-4: The poem’s interpretation is easier if you consider the spiritual meaning. The concrete version, as the poem “Faith” explains it, is more difficult to believe. See, of course, Matthew 17:20,21. 20And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. —
The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
 
 
 
I prefer the 17th-century version but for those who don’t share this eccentricity, here is a modern version:
 
 
 
Faith
 
Lord, how could you so much appease
 
Your wrath for sin as, when man’s sight was dim,
 
And could see little, to regard his ease,
 
And bring by Faith all things to him?
 
 
 
Hungry I was, and had no meat:
 
I did conceit a most delicious feast;
 
I had it straight, and did as truly eat,
 
As ever did a welcome guest.
 
 
 
There is rare outlandish root,
 
Which when I could not get, I thought it here:
 
That apprehension cur’d so well my foot,
 
That I can walk to heav’n well near.
 
 
 
I owed thousands and much more:
 
I did believe that I did nothing owe,
 
And liv’d accordingly; my creditor
 
Believes so too, and lets me go.
 
 
 
Faith makes me any thing, or all
 
That I believe is in the sacred story:
 
And where sin places me in Adam’s fall,
 
Faith sets me higher in his glory.
 
 
 
If I go lower in the book,
 
What can be lower than the common manger?
 
Faith puts me there with him, who sweetly took
 
Our flesh and frailty, death and danger.
 
 
 
If bliss had lien in art or strength,
 
None but the wise or strong had gained it:
 
Where now by Faith all arms are of a length;
 
One size does all conditions fit.
 
 
 
A peasant may believe as much
 
As a great Clerk, and reach the highest stature.
 
Thus do you make proud knowledge bend & crouch,
 
While grace fills up uneven nature.
 
 
 
When creatures had no real light
 
Inherent in them, you did make the sun
 
Impute a luster, and allow them bright;
 
And in this show, what Christ has done.
 
 
 
That which before was darkened clean
 
With bushy groves, pricking the looker’s eye,
 
Vanished away, when Faith did change the scene:
 
And then appeared a glorious sky.
 
 
 
What though my body run to dust?
 
Faith cleaves unto it, counting ev’ry grain
 
With an exact and most particular trust,
 
Reserving all for flesh again.
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