ENLARGING THE HEART

UPDATE:             1ST January 2015   We now begin a new series of commentaries on the Rule of our Holy Father Saint Benedict (Series 3). We hope this will continue to be a source of spiritual nourishment for you. 


Daily readings from the Rule of Saint Benedict

By a Benedictine of Saint Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde


"... as we progress in our monastic life and in faith, our hearts

   shall be enlarged, and we shall run with unspeakable sweetness of love in the way of God's commandments." 

(From the Prologue of the Rule of Saint Benedict)


St Benedict wrote his Rule for monks some fifteen centuries ago.  Driven by his love of Christ, he wanted to establish his monastery as a “school of the Lord’s service”: a place where people who truly seek God could find him; places where “authentic Gospel values prevail”[1]; where nothing whatever would be preferred to Christ. The Rule of St Benedict spread all over Europe, and had an enormous influence on the life and spirituality of the Latin Church.  It continues to inspire monks, nuns, and countless lay people throughout the world today.

Like many monasteries we divide the Rule into sections so that the whole Rule is covered over a period of three months. The commentaries will follow the sequence of the sections.



[1] Pope John Paul II, to Benedictine Abbots, 23 September 1996


CHAPTER 54:

Whether a monk is to receive letters or presents

 

6 August 

On no account shall it be lawful for a monk either to give or to receive, without the permission of his Abbot, letters, presents, or any little gifts whatsoever, whether from his parents or anyone else, or from his brethren.  And if anything is sent to him even by his parents, let him not presume to receive it unless it shall have first been shown to the Abbot.  If the Abbot orders it to be received, it shall be in his power to command to whom it shall be given; and let not the brother to whom it has been sent be saddened, lest occasion be given to the devil.  Should anyone, however, presume to act otherwise, let him be subjected to the regular punishment.

 

Let not the brother to whom it has been sent be saddened…  Sadness appeared in ch 34 which also discussed the distribution of goods.  In both cases, sadness will appear if the monk does not have a solid grasp of the priorities of his vocation, not only with regard to poverty and separation from the world but also the common life.    If attachment to family and goods are still strong, one’s peace and joy are vulnerable to sadness.  But of course, in spite of the desire to live for the Lord, we may at times feel the loss of certain things.  We cannot force these feelings to go away and we shouldn’t.  On the other hand, one shouldn’t deliberately indulge or foster them.  These feelings can become an occasion for renewing our decision to belong to the Lord alone.  Despite my feelings of attachment, I am ready to grow gradually in detachment.  That is the important thing.