Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 59, "We Have Learned from Experience That It Can Happen"

Chapter 59 of The Rule of St. Benedict is a short chapter dealing with the sons of nobles joining the monastery and the temptations they might face. Benedict's directives are as follows:
3As to [the family's] property, they...make a sworn promise...that they will never personally, never through an intermediary, nor in any way at all, nor at any time, give the boy anything or afford him the opportunity to possess anything.
I expect it would have been hard to have trust fund babies in the monastery. The money would have been a constant temptation to, when things got hard, to walk out and live the high life. And this seems to have happened a lot. Benedict dryly observes, "we have learned from experience that it can happen."

I don't think a lot has changed. In the affluent West we are always "opting out" from the hard way of Jesus because, well, who needs all that additional stress in their life? With houses, multiple cars, money and retirement plans we don't really need the hassle.

This is why, as I've written before, I think the gospel comes alive among the poor. God is best seen among the poor as our dependence upon God, a dependence masked by affluence, is made manifest.

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2 thoughts on “Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 59, "We Have Learned from Experience That It Can Happen"”

  1. I think that the connection between this post, and the statement from Francis that he is a sinner, is at the very heart of the Gospel. When you read the interview in America, it is clear that it is against this horizon of total giving that he is measuring himself. This is what produces that genuine sense of awareness of his own sinfulness. It is what makes his identity as a sinner more than a pro forma statement that showcases his 'humility'. In this play between genuine acknowledgment of our greed, growth in love and generosity, and faith in God's endless grace, I think we start to get an inkling of the full weight and lightness of the Gospel.

  2. I struggle with this. We have worked to make everyone at least comfortable here in America and I certainly have bought in hook, line and sinker. Is it the job of the church to get everyone to a place of comfort? The more I have the less I depend on Him. Do I really want that for everyone?

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