Friday, July 26, 2019

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary, Mother of Jesus

Readings of the Day
RB: Ch 46 Faults Committed Elsewhere
Mass: Ex 20:1-17; Resp Ps 19; Mt 13:18-23

Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

In relation to the theme of the chapters we are reflecting on these days from the Holy Rule, I read something yesterday that impressed me. In the Mount Angel Abbey Letter (Summer 2019, p. 10), an oblate of the Abbey was sharing how he relates the wisdom of St Benedict to his work as a leadership consultant. As reported, "Mark [Richards] applies lessons learned at Mount Angel to the challenge of building community and trust in organizations. 'When monks mess up, they bow to each other,' he says. 'My wife and I do that too.'"

One might name the theme of Chapters 42-46 of the Holy Rule as, "What happens when monks 'mess up.'" RB 42 is about respecting silence, especially the Summum Silentium (commented on last Sunday); RB 43 about the importance of arriving on time for prayer and meals; RB 44, the consequences of committing faults at prayer and at meals; RB 45 covers "messing up" at prayer, for example, by making a "mistake in a psalm, responsory, refrain or reading"; RB 46, about "messing up" while "working in the kitchen, in the storeroom, in serving, in the bakery, in the garden, in any craft or anywhere else".

In these chapters, St Benedict is not attempting to lay down the law so to speak or expecting perfection from members of the community. Benedict understands the human condition; he knows and appreciates differences in personalities and temperaments. What Benedict is doing is put well by Mr Richards, Benedict is "building community and trust." Some ways we can build community and trust are to be aware of how our actions and words affect those with whom we live and work. We are not islands unto ourselves. If we are late for something, others must wait; if we break a dish or are careless with something we use, the dish has to be replaced or others can't use whatever it is we were careless with; if I haven't prepared to proclaim the reading assigned to me or practiced what I am assigned to sing, my sisters suffer; if I don't take out the compost, the bucket overflows and attracts bugs. We are called to be accountable; to be responsible for our words and deeds and not make excuses for our behavior. In the end, it is best to follow St Benedict's teaching: go before the Abbess (or boss, colleague, wife, husband, mom, dad, brother, sister, friend) and community of my own accord and admit my fault and make satisfaction (RB 46:3). Going about this will be different for each family, work team, community, or organization. I wonder how Joachim, Anne, and Mary went about it.

Let peace be your quest and aim.
(RB Prologue 17)


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