Jan 15, 2014
St. Benedict’s MonasticRule is a spiritual gem acknowledged by one of the luminaries of theCatholic Church, St. Gregory the Great. It has spiritually guidedthousands and thousands of men and women striving for holiness, andis still doing so after some fifteen centuries. One can read it andre-read it, and each time discover a precious insight that helpssouls open to its message and to come closer to God.
But inevitably, we shallalso find passages, which, at first sight, will baffle us. A monasticvocation is a response to a call coming from God and implies anardent desire to give oneself totally to Him. But, given our fallennature, it is inevitable that the way to heaven will be narrow, andits very narrowness will discourage many of us from proceedingfurther on the fast road to heaven. At the end of his Holy Rule, St.Benedict tells us, to our amazement, that he is only sharing with usthe “rudiments of monastic observance.” (Ch. 73) It is a “rulefor beginners.”
Those of us who have readit attentively will be dumbfounded by this claim that he is offeringus only the ABC's of spiritual life, for our response to his teachingwill at times be, “this is too hard a road to travel on. I amdefinitely not called upon to become a Benedictine.” “This way isso steep that only some privileged souls, who have receivedextraordinary graces, can possibly follow this path.”
How many of us will not beturned off upon reading the following words: “And if any brother,for however trifling a reason, be corrected in any way by the abbotor any of his seniors, or if he perceive that any senior, in howeversmall a degree, is displeased or angry with him, let him at oncewithout delay cast himself on the ground at his feet, and lie theremaking reparation, until that displeasure is appeased and he blesshim.” (Ch 71) Is there not a shocking discrepancy between theoffense (“a trifling reason”) and the humiliation required inorder to be forgiven? Should not be punishment be proportionate tothe “crime”?