March 9, July 9, November 8
Chapter 31: What Kind of Man the Cellarer of the Monastery Should Be
Above all things let him have humility;
and if he has nothing else to give
let him give a good word in answer
for it is written,
“A good word is above the best gift” (Eccles. 18:17).
Let him have under his care
all that the Abbot has assigned to him,
but not presume to deal with what he has forbidden him.
Let him give the brethren their appointed allowance of food
without any arrogance or delay,
that they may not be scandalized,
mindful of the Word of God as to what he deserves
“who shall scandalize one of the little ones” (Matt 18:6).
If the community is a large one,
let helpers be given him,
that by their assistance
he may fulfill with a quiet mind the office committed to him.
The proper times should be observed
in giving the things that have to be given
and asking for the things that have to be asked for,
that no one may be troubled or vexed in the house of God.
Maybe my wits are still befuddled, but I had to remind myself what a cellarer was. If you do too:
Making sure that people are properly nourished is a very important job. As in all of his job descriptions, Benedict lists the first qualification: humility. I wish the second qualification would be on all job descriptions: if you have nothing good to say, then say nothing. How much stress would that relieve in the workplace? And apparently, in Benedict’s kitchen also.
People get testy when you mess around with two things: their wallets and their meals. By making sure meals are attended to properly, good will is maintained in the community. And once again we see the tender care Benedict lavishes on his monks. The cellarer in a demanding and stressful position is to have all the help needed so that he can have a quiet mind, a stress-free mind and thus be free to do his job. The end result: peace and tranquility.
I could think of many American workplaces that would benefit from following Benedict’s lead, but I guess that is off topic.