Rule of St. Benedict

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Rule of St. Benedict lecture series

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At the end of our last talk we saw with the final paragraph of the prologue Benwick's proposal to give us the norms for a school of the Lord's service and now we have to let the form of the school and our understanding of the kind of people who live there take shape from looking at these norms. As soon as we look at the very first sentences of the first chapter, particularly if we look at it in the Latin, we are likely to see several things and perhaps one word rather especially which would quite rightly throw us back to the prologue and some of the things it was necessary to say about that. The word I'm thinking of is the word which as far as I can see everyone translates as serve or something even milder, though the Latin has miditans of which one of the obvious meanings is fighting. The opening in RB 1980 runs, there are clearly four kinds of monks. First there are Cenobites, that is to say those


who belong to a monastery where they serve under a rule and an abbot or if you like somewhat more literally where they are struggling under a rule and an abbot. Now RB 1980 has two very sensible notes on the two occasions when the verb militare occurs in the prologue. These notes will give us I think sufficient indications for those who want to look into the history of this word. If we are to talk form I think a just impression of what sort of a place the monastery must be I think we must retain both senses that this word can have, that's to say both serving and fighting. We should not I think be worried that both the occurrences in the prologue picture the Christian life as a struggle, if you like a holy warfare and none of the odiousness that warfare has taken on in our own time should make us afraid of what is in fact a vivid New Testament image particularly in the final chapter of the letter of the Ephesians with this idea of wearing the whole armour of God and


wielding the sword of the spirit. It is perhaps the notion of spiritual struggle that is an element in the evolution of the idea of the monk as the natural successor to the martyr in his witness to Christ and there's evidently no serious Christian life in any form which does not involve the fighting of battles even if frankly battles with oneself. But at the same time this military metaphor has also come by St. Benedict's time to refer to any kind of service even in a civil capacity and we shall of course receive plenty of occasion for that to see rule. We shall need I believe to retain both notions if we are to form a correct impression of the sort of place the monastery is to be for to the extent to which the members of the community are not seriously fighting battles of their own return to God and at the same time ready to be at the service of others who are pursuing the same end. The monastery will never really become the spiritual entity it's meant to be. I think we


remember all the time what we're trying to do is build a spiritual building and it comes into existence to the exact extent of that. I'll go on saying this all the way through because it's clearly written into the rule itself but unless you live the life the thing won't come into existence. It simply won't be there. It'll be on the top of the station but it won't be there in fact. This is naturally not all we must gather by reference back to the prologue. Name this idea of the Christian life and the monastic life as a struggle. We shall also need to remember that it's supposed to be a place where everyone is listening to the word of God however it's expressed with the ear of the heart. But the scriptural dimensions of the life of the rule we must return in a later talk when we're looking at the normative pattern of the daily life of the monk of the rule. In this talk where I'm going to attempt to sketch in some of the elements of the rule which suggests what sort of group this community is, I shall like to begin by noting from the first chapter where Benedict has reduced his source to about a quarter of the equivalent of the rule of the


What is the effect of that somewhat bare statement after about the monastery which is left? The statements about the Cenobites and the hermits are adapted from Benedict's source as they stand and they indicate that Benedict as we should expect from elsewhere in the rule stands in the same tradition stemming from John Cassian which sees the life of the community as the only prudent preparation for the life of the hermit. It'd be entirely wrong to suggest the community only exists to produce hermits for it explicitly said that they have learned everything they know notice that by the help and guidance of many the many who form the ranks of their brothers and what they've learned is how to fight the battle against the devil. These men are on that account ready to go out to fight against the vices of the flesh and their thoughts without the help of somebody else. For that would seem to be how Benedict envisages the members of the


community in relation to each other as really mutually supportive in their struggles. I say this is what Benedict thinks on the basis of the significant residue that he retains of a chapter from his source in which he's tellingly used his blue pencil. What Benedict has retained after these two implicitly positive opening manifestations of monks is a significant sentence or two increases them of those who sometimes live in small groups that have the forming guidance neither of norms nor of experience. This is I think perhaps the most appropriate moment to say a word about the dangers inherent in the exaltation of spontaneity for its own sake which sometimes overtakes those who feel the kind of call to the spiritual life. For there are plenty of indications as we go on with the text of the rule that ample room is made for genuinely personal development but that the founder of this kind of a school like those of creative schools of ballet or the other arts does not regard norms or experience as the enemy of the authentic life but rather something which


furthers it and prevents it running out into the sand. The claims of norms and experience may seem at first to be constricting to be the narrow way of the gospel as Benedict has by implication said in his careful re-modeling of the final section of the prologue but with progress in the way of life and faith they enable us to run as only a trained man can. Then spontaneity can take over but not like the impositors of the jar of egg who's always looking for a new home better to his taste. It's delightful that Benedict should have adopted his summary dismissal of these people of whom it is better to keep silent to speak from the rule of the master and really exercise the restraint of doing just that when his source goes on for several pages more. So he just goes to that and stops at that point which is probably what the master would have done too. He simply concludes that he's going to draw up a plan for the strong clients of monks who are Cenobites. Latin scholars agree that there's probably no true


superlative in this sentence and the Cenobites are not necessarily preferred to the hermits for continuity between the two forms of life is really what Benedict envisages we've seen. If the Cenobites are regarded as strong is perhaps because Benedict remembers as so many monks do the thought of Ecclesiastes chapter 4 10 woe to him who is alone when he falls with no one else to lift him up. I believe our revised Calcumanides constitutions are consistent with this view of Benedict's intentions in the first chapter. Chapter 1 of these, our own constitutions, number 5 says in the one monastic vocation there are different gifts but the same spirit. For this reason the monk may be called to realise his vocation in either the hermitage or the monastery. And number 10 adds the Commodities hermitage is situated between the Cenobitic and Anachoretic ways of life. It keeps the best elements of both and creates a wise balance of solitude and life in common.


Now I'm consciously not going to try to study the chapters on the abbot and the rule in this point. The first of which of course occurs in chapter 2. My reason for not doing this at least until next time is that for many who come to the rule, even perhaps some who are professed to it, the optic of the rule is grave and distorted by an image of the role of the abbot which is almost totally lacking in the balance that would be provided by assembling the ways in which Benedict elaborates as he goes along the positive element played by the community in the overall formation of the monk. Which is, after all, what the first chapters insisted upon. The very first thing said is these people can't be hermits until they've been formed in the common life. But I would note from chapter 2 on the abbot here now the second paragraph in which the abbot is required to be like God in not making distinctions between his monks on any other basis than that of their genuine virtues. Because, to quote him, whether slaves or freemen we're all one in Christ and share alike in


bearing arms in the service of the one Lord. There's no respect of persons with God. Only in this are we distinguished in his sight if we are found better than others in good works and in humility. This passage, which quotes some important and relevant phrases from the letters of St. Paul, is obviously a significant reminder not only to the abbot but to the whole community of principles which should help to determine its spiritual and human atmosphere. It is, at least in my view, preferable to the use of the words about the first Christian community being one in heart and soul from Acts 4, 20-32, which some people would perhaps have preferred to find quoted in the rule. St. Augustine, from whom St. Benedict seemed to learn a certain amount in compiling his rule, and now noting that as we go along, puts these words at the beginning of his rule, being as one of the introductory studies in RB 1980, says rather musically, incurably synabitic. Rather more seriously, I think I might say from my own experience, I have a good experience of what


terms are there of St. Augustine, that this text from the Acts can easily be used as a demand for a kind of community conformism which is stratified to the development of mature religious as the exaggeration of the role of authority in the common life. One of the many ways in which St. Benedict cuts through what I might call monolithic communitarianism is by improving somewhat on his source in chapter 3, on the summoning of the brethren to council, where he says quite simply that not only the abbot, but the community should be prepared for the possibility that on certain matters the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger. This is fortunately not an isolated happy phrase, which proves the point I'm trying to make here, that Benedict's conception of community is subtler than that for which he's generally given credit. For Benedict has no time for the kind of equalities in the community which would simply be lacking common sense and even unjust. Thus, while he speaks


with great firmness in chapter 33 against monks having anything of their own, precisely as their own, and quotes the very passage in Acts 4 I've just mentioned about the primitive community having all the things in common, he goes on immediately in the following chapter 34 to quote from the very same source the notion that distribution should be made to each according to his need. And thereby makes it quite clear that this is his answer to the question whether all should be treated equally. Here we can be quite sure that he's not forgotten Augustine's somewhat different emphasis in the interpretation of the passage from the Acts. For he's evidently influenced by Augustine's rule when he adopts the comment that anyone who needs less should thank God and not be discontented. I hope that point I'm making there is quite clear. His idea of equality is difference. That's the way everyone is treated alike. Benedict concludes that one of the things not to be tolerated is constant


grumbling. He has several important things about grumbling in the rule and they obviously are to be taken very seriously because they do upset the common life terribly. For Benedict both at the physical and as we shall see rather better especially next time at the spiritual level, real need is the criterion for how each member of the community is to be treated. Thus in independence of his source for chapter 55 on the clothes and shoes of the brethren, Benedict makes it one of the abbot's obligations to see that people receive things that fit them. I mention this because I have in my time known two ostensibly observant monasteries where this eminently sensible directive was disregarded. And at least in the man of the shoes it can of course be physically crippling. I do actually know one monastery where instead of going out and bought enormous numbers of pairs of size 8 or whatever it was, 8 or 10, everybody had to use these somehow or another. It's quite conscious of the rule and quite conscious of the whole common sense thing to go right through from the physical to the spiritual


in the rule. But everybody's different. In the context of which we are present speaking I'm not anxious to dwell on chapter 4 on the tools of good works. Though not only does it begin with the double commandment of love and modified sources by extending the commandment to honor our father and mother, to honoring everyone. Notice that at the beginning. As the first letter of St. Peter does, if anybody wants that reference, it's Peter 2, 17, honoring everyone. Although that's the way it starts, anyone can readily collect in chapter 4 a number of pieces of dice that direct and intimately affect the common life of the monastery. Of course, several of these I shall have to come back to in another context. But I just wanted to try to get to the sort of first picture today, which won't be very mobile yet because we haven't got a plan of life and the way people interact in the movements of the day. But we're simply building up a picture of how they are in relation to each other. My own patron Aaron mentioned


particularly when he was dying, his lifelong efforts to make peace with anyone with whom one was disagreed before the sun goes down, which is one of the things in chapter 4. But perhaps as we pass somewhat rapidly now, so to chapter 5 on obedience, we shouldn't forget from chapter 4 the injunction to respect the elders and love the young. Again, perhaps I might just shoot in as it comes into my mind now, a benediction in my mind saying to me once about a community where I was living. Of course, I can see what goes on here, but in our community we should expect it to go exactly the other way around. The young do absolutely everything and the old ones never do anything for them. It was a rather cruel piece of observation, but it wasn't wholly untrue. At the beginning of chapter 5 we come close to the root of this mutual respect and love. This begins by saying, the first step of humility is obedience without delay. This is appropriate to those who hold nothing dearer than


Christ. I simply don't see why RB 1980 translate that verb here as comes naturally. I don't think it's anything kind that says come in it, which is, it's appropriate to those who hold nothing dearer than Christ. For this, of course, is a paraphrase, it's not a translation, which the rule promises in its prologue that this will eventually come about. But it might be misleading for beginners to do so, I think. I think it's right that this is the way of throwing it. This is why one has to look so carefully at this very simple text. It's so short and so very simple. If you don't look at it very carefully, you'll get it all wrong. And here, the point I'm trying to make is that in fact, it's appropriate to those who hold nothing dearer than Christ. In other words, the thing Benedict drives me back to is what you really think about this life and the way you live it. If nothing is dearer to you than Christ, then in fact, that's the way it'll work. But it doesn't mean so it'll work of itself, if that's just a phrase in your head.


However one translates it, the first motive for the life of every one of us is Christ. And that holy service which we professed, the first motive, notice there's a list of possible motives, but that's the one that's first. This word service is of course closely connected with that warfare for which the prologue has enrolled us. And here we must notice at once that this service to or under Christ through obedience is not, in the teaching of the rule, offered only through obedience to the superior of the house. I think this is one of the sort of very notable contrasts between the feeling of the rule of the Master and the rules of Benedict. Because it's true to say what some people say, I think totally mistakenly about the rules of Benedict, that the Aristotle at the top and his influences are everywhere. Because it is in one way true, but not in this particular way, not as far as obedience is concerned. The two significant points to bear in mind are first the opening of chapter 35 on the kitchen servers of the week.


Which says, the brethren should serve one another and no one is to be excused from the kitchen service unless sickness or some important business of the Master detains him. But more important and quite alien to the atmosphere of the rule of the Master is chapter 71, that the brethren should be obedient to each other. Knowing that by this way of obedience they will go to God. Benedict is actually so much important to the spirit of this chapter that he thinks persistent stubbornness about it is sufficient ground for expulsion from the monastery. I don't think we should ever take faith in that, I don't really like it. In other words, it's a very great matter for him that they should be like this to each other. Returning to the earlier chapters, no less important for the atmosphere of the community is chapter 6. Which is abbreviated, translated by R.B. 1980, as about restraint of speech. I think that's very good, potentially, to end the topic. The last sentence of this chapter says, we absolutely condemn in all places any vulgarity and gossip and talk leading to laughter and do not permit a disciple to say things like this.


Now, if laughter has a sinister ring in this context, it is, I think, not just because earlier centuries often found laughter rather more sinister than we do, but also because of its association with vulgarity and gossip. Even the stoutest defenders of laughter cannot fail to be aware that it can often be cruel and can sometimes be used to inhibit the life of certain individuals in a group, in a way which is unjust and therefore unhealthy for the group as a whole. And this is why the test for the kind of talk which makes a community what the rule means it to be is surely to be found in the one chapter in the rule which is evident to pure Benedict, namely chapter 72, on the good zeal monks ought to have. And not the zeal which suppresses all laughter or joy, but which bears with the greatest patience one another's infirmities, whether of body or behaviour. Repeating the point of chapter 71, Benedict says, let them vie in paying obedience one to another.


No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead what he judges better for someone else. Let them love each other with a pure love of brothers. And finally, of course, let them prefer nothing to Christ. And may he bring us all alike to everlasting life. This is one of those cases where I strongly agree with my study contemporary at Oxford, Father Timothy Warner of St. Louis Priory, that R.B. 1980 made the wrong translation of the word panetere both here and in the chapter on Lent, where the inappropriateness of the word together instead of alike is even more flagrant. It's difficult for me not to believe the desire to have this word mean together rather than alike is part of a desire to impose upon the rule a conception of community which is quite alien to it. Benedict gives a great payment both in his description of the ways monasteries are governed and the ways members are to relate to each other to show that the important way in which we are alike is in our need to be treated differently for who we are.


And this alone can make our togetherness fruitful. And this is why the true fulcrum of the life of the ruler is Christ, who alone embodies the fullness and wholeness we sometimes almost erotically long for in other ways. By way of a mini appendix to these broader gatherings from the rule at large, I'd like to add three small points from other places before coming to the chapter which I believe to be decisive for the life of the community as Benedict sees it. First, in chapter 22 on the sleeping arrangements, this is a very small point but it's a very delightful point, where Benedict has made short work of the elaborate directives of the Master. In his final sentence, Benedict has retained something which there's a hint in his source, where he says, On rising for the work of God, let them gently encourage each other on account of the excuses to which the sleepy are given. It's a tiny and typically humane point for daily life. And incidentally, of course, has just a very tiny thing to tell us about what Benedict's conception of silence in the rule is.


It's not certainly some kind of dumb thing because he even allows people to encourage each other and enjoy what is the time of solemn silence. It's a tiny and typically humane point, I think, anyway. And of course, Benedict goes on firmly against his source and in the other changes he makes in this entire atmosphere. Thus, in chapter 27, on those who had to be a communicator of the life of the community, where the Master thinks that no one should be allowed to have contact with them or console them, because that's what they should simply receive, a rather long lecture with the Abbot, which he gives with absolutely ghastly specimen. Benedict thinks that the situation can be so delicate that the Abbot should not interfere at all, but should send in mature and wise brothers who, as it were, secretly may comfort the wavering brother and urge him to be humble in a way of waking satisfaction.


In other words, humbled without being humiliated. Benedict tells the Abbot that he should realize he's undertaking the care of the sick, not tyranny over the healthy. And similarly, when in chapter 36 he comes to the care of the physically sick, he banishes the Master's suspicion that some of them are just malingerers and puts the whole subject in a clearly Christian perspective. Before all things, and above all else, care must be taken of the sick, so that they may be served in merry deed as Christ himself. But in this chapter, we shouldn't fail to notice the mutuality of the relationship that is established like this. For the sick are to see the influence of God in those who serve them. It goes both ways. It's evidently Christ who serves Christ. And this is surely the determining factor in the making of the community, as Benedict conceives it. We must look all the way through. There are all kinds of things like that in the more dovetailed this way.


And if you miss them in the text, you miss the whole feeling of the common man in the room. It's very strong indeed. By no means weak. It's very strong. But exceptional circumstances alone, of course the sick are exceptional circumstances, and the excommunicated are also exceptional. They are evidently not sufficient to make this dovetailing of the members of the community to be in each other. In a recourse of critique given to the monks of Aldiema in this psalm of 86, I venture to say that I believe the real birthplace of true community is in the fourth degree of those steps of community which Benedict describes in the writing of chapter 7 of his rule. I find it an exhaustible chapter. I'll probably give a lot of space to it later on. I just want you to have a first glance at it in this connection. I remind you briefly that this fourth step speaks of anyone who meeting in the life of obedience with difficulties and contradictions and even injustice


should with a quiet mind hold fast to patience and enduring neither tar nor run away. Benedict quotes the phrase from the Gospel of John about the one who is saved by persevering. And a phrase from Psalm 26 which is Benedict's Latin. Benedict's Latin says, Let your heart take courage and wait for the Lord. I must say just another comment on RB1980 which I find unsatisfactory. They concentrate on these modern translations very often for the scriptural quotations and not give us what Benedict read in the Latin which could easily have been done just by translating it. And sometimes the point is lost as I think in this particular one. Let your heart take courage and wait for the Lord. It's that idea of waiting that goes together with listening and remembering. We're going to pick up those words all the way through. The phrases of this wonderful paragraph, of which these words are only a part, describe, I believe, someone whose heart is softened and made supple by experience.


Even the experience of themselves. Under adverse conditions. In such a way that they're really open to God and consequently, I believe, to others. I don't think you'll ever be compassionate unless you've never suffered. You simply can't be compassionate. You can be sentimental but you can't be really compassionate. Indeed, the concluding words of this same stage, tap into step four, have heaped up the New Testament reverences to turning the other cheek, giving the cloak as well as the tunic, going the extra mile, bearing with false brethren, blessing those who curse us. Well, I'd never seen anybody, seen or heard of anybody, insisting on all this and talking about the common life in this minute view, in the context in which we're speaking. And so I was happy when no one said, no one at the DMC said it was all irrelevant and in fact seemed basically approving of what I was saying. It was only some time after returning to the Hermitage that I discovered


I had an unexpected ally in the Benedictine sister, Joan Chichester, whom I hitherto thought of as being rather a swashbuckling feminist. In the fifth of a series of talks she gave and published under the title, Living Rule Today, she says quite boldly, the chapter on humility is the chapter on community life. I'm not sure that she explains all this quite persuasively, and I think that this little book as a whole, I don't recommend you read it particularly, suffers from being rather too private to her and her own community and would have benefited from some fairly radical revision before publication. When I mentioned this to Father Victor, he said, I think quite wisely, he spec'd that perhaps somebody does care about her notes and said these are good enough to publish. God, I think it's nonsense being said to me too. And taking it up and just putting it together like that, it won't do really, it's often a mess. But I don't hesitate to say that I think many of her insights are absolutely sound. And she's quite right to say that the chapter on humility is often misunderstood.


And it says nothing requires anyone to beat themselves down, nor will it permit them to beat anyone else down either. This chapter is on self-development, she says I think rather well, on religious commitment, on the value of community, and the need of stability for community to lead to conversion. All this we shall obviously have to examine for itself at a later stage in these talks. But today, I'd simply like to leave you, for your consideration, Joachim's scheme for the twelve steps of chapter seven. The first two are concerned primarily with us in our hearts, remembering who God is and who we are. And hence wanting to do his will. The first two steps. The third degree consists in my own renunciation of power. And the fourth, in the acceptance of the fact that someone else now has this real power over me. I hope that what I've been saying in this talk will have suggested that there are in fact


some much more subtle interactions, right across the ruler, that work in the experience of the fourth step, than Joachim's dimensions here. At least I agree with her that steps three, four and five are especially concerned with what are public relations in the community. The fifth step being of course our willingness to be known as we are, and hence trusting and trusting. The sixth step seems to be content with what one receives, and hence to accept the circumstances of the community, both physical and spiritual, as they really are. Steps seven, eight and nine are concerned with my personal relationships within the community. In step seven, I'm ready to take and receive criticism. In eight, to take my part in a supportive way in what the community does. And in nine, ten and eleven, in their different ways, I've achieved that kind of restraint and consideration that others need in order to be able to live with me.


In the twelfth step, I've evidently become the integrated person. I simply appear to be what I now am, and this gives me and others peace. And the end of it all, and hence the purpose of the life of the community, is the love that casts out fear. When all this is said, I hope you will see that I've not tried to define what community is, for St Benedict doesn't do this. But I think it can be done. For I think it can only be known by being lived. There's a wise sentence which comes in number 101 of the Humanities Constitution, which says, community forms new members and continues to form all its members through the experience of the monastic life itself. I believe this to be profoundly true. And I hope as we, if you will be patient with me as we build all this up, you will yourself see that it really is fairly clearly written into the wall, absolutely all over it. Both in the picture of the abbot, which we're going to think about,


and the other officers, which we're going to think about next time. But here, I'm sorry this is such a marvellous way to do it, but in some ways I hope you can see there are lots of very clear hints in the way the community draws together through its common experience, through the common life of struggle and difficulty. Well, we'll take a little pause. If anyone wants to ask something else, or throw something at me, please do. How do you like the translation of the chapters of the fourth degree? I don't at all like the fourth degree. I only discovered by accident when I was bearing this particulate how very bad chapter four also is. It's hard to quite embrace its suffering. I've never seen that in translation. No, quite. Yes, exactly.


Exactly. I think it's pretty unsatisfactory. Let's look at O. Justin McCann, who is often so much better. This was, of course, from Justin McCann's translation, looking at the Latin, that I chiefly learnt it when I was young, and it's been a very important text for me all through my life, I think. The fourth degree of humility, and this is Justin McCann, is that meeting in disobedience with difficulties and contradictions, and even injustice, he should hold with a quiet mind, very nice, tension of consciencia. Notice that. What have they done about that then? Is there an object? Patiencia membriam lactata, yes. Should hold fast to patience. Patience, yes. Because here he's got, his heart quietly embraces suffering.


Yes, well, of course, you see what they've... I'm afraid this is very annoying. I find it very... I'm going to try and say it in a much more... very loud voice than I do today when we come to scripture, because it's very much a portrayal of the young people who don't have to know anything, because it's subtle. I'm not saying you can justify it if you want to, because you know the verb patio. It means subtle in Latin. But it does mean patience, all the same. So it's a key idea, and not to translate it like that. Suffering has an entirely different meaning for us. It is. It means a lot more than to bear. Yes, it means, in other words, it means undergoing. It means undergoing, but it has another correlation when it comes to what we think of suffering. Exactly. It does. Well, if you've got that complicated, what do you mean? Well, I said that the fourth degree of energy is that you hold fast to patience. I wouldn't mind that as the alternative. Yes, that's no contradiction. It's better, actually, definitely not the alternative, because, as I say, in fact,


to bring the concept of suffering there, which can just be justified, is certainly not what it all means. So you can embrace suffering with patience, exactly. It most beautifully comes out, I think, from Wallace Morris. It's him who wrote The Martyrs, isn't it? No, Nick. Remember the technical therapist at the European University who used to sing that piece, The Martyrs and The Martyrs. And Wallace Morris has written what is clearly the conclusion of the fourth degree. He says, for the attachment of men to their conscience, the concept of that which is. They learn that by heart to be patient. It's a patient remark which everybody celebrates. Even the word embrace. Is it pulled on to, rather, clung to, or is it embraced? It's embraced. You can say it, doesn't it? It really does. I think this is the real thing. If you listen to Sigmund, I know I sound amiss,


but if you can see now, anybody who's asked for the word, it's very painful and I certainly think it betrays because if you miss the meaning, the whole dimension flies. It doesn't spin. It's terrible. Because it's already implied in such a way that the words that have gone before, it sounds more like it's asking us to accept with patience that which is happening. Yes, and this is also, there's a big competition about this which we have to throw away. The way in which we inherit the glory from the martyrs was precisely through patience. I sit there, we're not put to death. As the leader, of course, the leader there would have to love everybody and have a way of protection. Patience has a purpose in your parents' business and execution. A life of people's pain may be called the worst thing in the world. So it is,


I'm sorry, I hope I've made it worse for anybody. At least I haven't been able to get a feel of the thing. I'm sorry not to be able to do it better because I can't really translate the whole thing. But as I say, the most I find, again, I hope you do feel, Father Prior, you do feel that I've justified insisting on this word peritere, meaning alike and not together. Because as I say, it comes out the silliest in the chat, because there, everybody, the whole chat is concerned by going to Father Prior and saying, this is what I'd like to do for you. Do you think that's alright? And that's, that's alike but not together. We all do it. But we don't talk together. You know, isn't it a kind of common plan? It's all that ties into it. You see, if you love, then you come together. You don't stop by having a plan about what you're going to do. But you can't do that without living. There's no way of doing life. The same way that you were saying at the beginning the word, I don't know which word it was in Latin, but it had to do


with struggling and serving. Yes, yes, exactly. Meditation, yes. Yet, if there's something happening, it's not either or. It's both and. Exactly. And I think that's true for the suffering of the patients too. I mean, what we do with joy and suffering has to be done with acceptance and patience. Because that, and embracing suffering gives a little feeling of, of... It makes it all more masochistic. If that's all you know, it is. I'm sure, I'm glad you made that point, but I haven't noticed it, I'm afraid. Largely because I suppose I've got some part, especially in chapter seven, I know it nearly by heart in Latin, so I don't tend to think about what people say about it. So I haven't looked closely enough. And of course, in any case, we need about three times the space I can give to it if we had to go into all this. And it isn't very helpful for many of you, because many of you don't know that anyway and wouldn't always see the point I was making, the subtlety of it.


So I've tried not to burden you with any of that at all, but I can't fail to point out you've got to remember the sort of things we've, the sort of points we're making here. You really want to understand the rule because otherwise you won't get it right. Don't... For me, it's still more worrying for all young people nowadays, just... For instance, I grew up, of course, learning a thing in Latin and reading in Latin and all that. So it's in my head in that way. And so I also say the opposite of that in the Psalms of Latin. So, then the echoes come, but the problem is we've now used five or six different translations of everything. And so there are no echoes anymore. You can't... Well, he doesn't for what I've done, but you can't remember what it is, really. I hope that's not too hard, because I think it's a diabolical situation. And I can't see any meaning quite through this, except by talking about mistakes and... Can you see that in the chapter on obedience there where the first step of humility is unhesitating


obedience which comes naturally... He says naturally and I agree with you that word naturally... exactly. It doesn't translate it. I mean, Latin's quite clear. The combination is suitable for or appropriate for those who are like this. It's appropriate for those who cherish Christ above all else. That fits very much with the next kind of word you mentioned, to prefer Christ above all else. Yes, that's all that, because that comes several times into the idea of preferring Christ as opposed to seeing Christ. And you haven't said that you never want to see Christ in all directions. So if you really begin to doubt like this, then of course it's entirely it'll happen of itself. It does come naturally then, but it doesn't necessarily start like that. Because you really have to... I think this is where it's the later after next when I'm trying to talk about the shape of the day, the office and so on. It's there, I think, that you enter into this because you're continually presented with the picture of


Christ in the... both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, of course, but then you take it apart and Christ is also present in the Old Testament. So you're being formed in this all the time and of course you're living out in the relationships all the time. But it does seem to me, like I say, even then, living out is a continual working out and also a struggle. Yes, you mentioned it before. Well, one thing I'd like to know what you thought about what I was saying there, isn't it important to bring in this business of the chapter of obedience to each other in this context too? Oh yes, I remember Martin, when he wrote about emotional obedience, rather later in his domestic writing, had to be translated in terms of obedience to Christianity. Exactly, yes, and I think it's there because there is the price is there in all directions and if you miss that direction out, you get everything wrong. That's why


I had to insist that we had to look at this first. Or they would come back. This one is the other one. Exactly, no, of course you see, I still haven't said it in English, but in fact, it's on the text itself. It was one of the things, he had to make a rule. In fact, I just discovered it last Friday, what a nice thing to do in the Catholic community. We have a good principle in the Catholic community. he's got a very obvious thing here, where he says, the reason why the act has to be above the rule is because he obeyed it, because he incarnated in the Absolute Discipline himself. He's the first one to have said this. And then it comes back to what I'll try to give you a phrase for that next time. Are there any obvious gaps? Yes,


Milton, what do you think? At the beginning of your talk, you spoke about the law of experience. Well, as far as I think, I alluded to it at the end, which quite might have said that then it's pretty probable that it means that to one. A picture of what he'd got in the normal situation for much of his early working life, where the celibates are not in debt. They have no loans. They just do what they feel like. they also own people who agree with them. So it's all mainly kind of


things except companies, communities all want it. And they haven't got either sort of experience. They've got no education how things will be done. And they don't think that you can learn about what happens if you do certain things. Is that clear? I think that's what really is. I say the same thing to my friends. I remember one of my very first friends saying to me of course there are a lot of people who have this life nowadays and they miss their time. And obviously it's an easy thing to face because it is likely that other people may find that there is any kind of industry or even reliability. I mean just as you have as a nurse it's when you want to want to I mean by that is this particular patient knows about all that comes along the way through the room this particular nurse, this particular saying


otherwise you won't know what you're can't find a shape of that each time by seeing where you are and what it is you're doing. You're doing it all. And it's very clear that it's not in the rules of medicine. Now this is one way to explain it completely and he said he's simply a nurse. I suppose I love this story. I think it's one that comes in the dark and is very very very very memento when he's found by somebody by a man who And Benedict says, I know it is because I've seen you, it's very, very much like that. Anything else? Q. Is that what you mean by obedience to others, to the community? When you say obedience to the community, does that really say that? A. Yes, that's chapter 71. It's a whole chapter, a short chapter, but it's a whole chapter.


Q. That would be a kind of listening, a kind of serving? A. Yes, well, of course, it's developed a bit more in chapter 72, which is the one which everybody quotes, as being the most typical piece of Benedict, because there's no, we can't put a source for that chapter at all. And so, you see, first of all, he puts them bearing with patience with each other's infirmities, whether their body or, you know, I think old Justin McCann has a rather nice, sensible word here. I often think, of course, that sometimes when I'm thinking of Justin McCann's words, he's all like our own Father Beat, who will suddenly use a word. Q. You know, there are two quite different visions of obedience, but it's very much just one of them. A. Exactly, exactly. Q. It's the only evangelical one. A. Yes, of course, this is one of the problems, isn't it, in modern times, to talk about the three religious virtues, that, in fact, there is no precept of obedience in the Gospel. There's only the example of Christ, and that's what you get in the rule.


That's really why the Christ's father figure in the Abbot is the one we all have to have, because the son does what he sees the father doing, and that's the thing, it's that pattern which we get through John, which is right the way through all this thought. And that's the reason why we have to be obedient, because that's what Christ does. Q. One vision is that the son does what the father does, but the other vision has really become an Old Testament vision. The vertical obedience, a kind of equal submission to an authority who represents God, that's not really the New Testament. A. It isn't, exactly. That's quite right, it is so. And that's really why, of course, there's no freedom and no joy in it, really, because it was really rather terrible, wasn't it? And then also, then you've got fitted up with this, this strange notion which all of us of our generation have met before. Q. There's two kinds of incarnation.


One is a kind of political, juridical incarnation. The obedience to God is sort of this abstract, and it's invested in this individual, it's sort of central in a sense. And the other is an incarnation, actually, into all of the living context of the world. Q. And he must be presuming that each individual is taking care of himself or herself in a way that would allow him or her to earnestly compete in obedience to one another. Listen to this, Nick. No one is to presume what he judges better for himself, but instead what he judges better for someone else. But to do that, one needs to be pretty balanced in not neglecting that in himself, which is necessary to give that to the other, because there's an obedience to oneself, in a sense,


not in a selfish way. Q. Yes, but what we owe to ourselves is the intention to follow Christ. And there's always hope, isn't there? They're not meant to be there. Q. No, they're always positive, because what I judge to be good for someone else is really good for them. It's also good for me. It's not just to do good or bad. Q. Yes. Q. You go with the rule that Jesus says, do unto others as you would have others do unto you. A lot of others might not like to have done unto them what you would like them to have done unto yourself. So you have to consider what the person would like to do for himself. Q. Yes. Especially if you're on the phone with them. I guess the further objective and which benefit is to do a good obedience to Christ or as you


Yes, I think there's a slight danger there if one doesn't get the very concrete, if one misses the concrete sense of the situation, because it's so very, I'm actually curious to hear what you have to say on this, but I don't think I'm going to talk for at least a minute. By saying, do remember, that's a charity, they're not subsistence, that's a charity, it isn't charity when you're summing up a given bit of property, you have to ask for purpose, you know what I'm saying, I'm afraid. So, if you like, some people will use the name of Christ in certain cases, in a way it puts you out of your comfort zone, in a way it puts you out of your comfort zone, to say how pleased you are that you're going to make it all open to the local Christ and the other person, right? Yes, exactly. Yes, we need to be loved for ourselves. But it does seem to me that it's quite clear that many, it does mean that to me, all the way up to the size of a shoe, or whatever it is, if that's what I need, that's what I ought to have in so far as it can be had. Now obviously


the community is going to learn about what it can actually give, that's part of that, that also comes with people. Except for me, if one does really accept the situation to be quite possible, all that can change, part of it can be, and we'll be spending a little bit of this next week. Well bless you all, I'm very grateful to you, I'm sorry I'm late, I think in so far as one's trying to put time together dynamically, it's quite difficult not to get rather excited about it, rather than actually indicate the thing concretely enough, but I think as you look through the wall you'll see this more and more coming together in a picture. So next time we're going to look at the other notes that are related to it, against this background, and then we'll look at the fact that we're in a different place. Thank you.