Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Jan. 9 – May 10 – Sept. 9
An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
should always remember what she is called,
and live up to the name of Superior.
For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
being called by a name of His,
which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
“You have received a Spirit of adoption …,
by virtue of which we cry, ‘Abba — Father'” (Rom. 8:15)!
Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
anything which is against the Lord’s precepts;
on the contrary,
her commands and her teaching
should be a leaven of divine justice
kneaded into the minds of her disciples.
I really love that image ‘leaven of divine justice kneaded into the minds of her disciples.’ It calls to mind making bread… flour and water, a little salt, a little butter, and yeast; the yeast
(leaven) being the most important element if we want the bread to rise.
So the sisters, perhaps, can be represented as the flour, into which the Abbess stirs the other necessary ingredients reading, labour, the work of God – and the ‘leaven of divine justice’. These are then kneaded together.
Once kneaded together, the ingredients can never again separate out into their component parts. This is impossible. The flour is leavened for all time; it’s a permanent feature of the new dough. Divine justice, along with the scriptures, the Rule, prayer, labour,community, have become so much a part of each individual sister, under the Abbess’s experienced kneading, that they can never go back to being ‘just flour’.
Has anyone in the group any story to tell about how they’ve felt themself changed to leavened dough? Has there been someone whose ‘kneading’ influence has brought you to a closer relationship with God? Does the Rule itself knead the dough of our faith and obedience?