Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 62, Prideful Priests

In Chapter 61 of The Rule of St. Benedict we return to the problem of priests. Recall in Chapter 60 Benedict had been dealing with this problem, in that instance the admission of priests to the monastery. In Chapter 61 the issue involves allowing a monk already in the monastery to become a priest. In both cases the issue is pride, the ordained monk placing himself above the other monks. Thus Benedict writes:
2The monk so ordained must be on guard against conceit or pride, 3must not presume to do anything except what the abbot commands him, and must recognize that now he will have to subject himself all the more to the discipline of the rule.
One of the things happening here is that by ordaining monks you are introducing into the common life of the monastery the clergy/laity distinction and all that comes with that separation, especially the "conceit" and "pride" among the ordained.

Are our churches any different? Are clergy, priests, pastors, preachers and ministers vulnerable to conceit and pride? I think we have all been exposed to these sorts of cases.

But we see in Benedict a hint of what the best sort of clergy look like. Specifically, the best sort of clergy are those with a strong egalitarian and democratic sensibility, a person who, despite being clergy, will be subject "all the more to the discipline of the rule." No special treatment or indulgences. If anything, holding yourself to a high standard.

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2 thoughts on “Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 62, Prideful Priests”

  1. I am a member of a church that has one of the most remarkably humble and servant minded group of elders I have ever known. Obviously I don't know their hearts in all instances but am willing to follow and submit to such men who seem always to want to serve God and their flock. It has not always been so. To whom much has been given much is required. The power of sacrificial service is a magnificent testimony to the glory of the gospel of Christ. I also know good women for whom I feel the same respect, love and admiration.

  2. As a child growing up in the Church of Christ I often heard members ridicule ministers and religious leaders who wore clerical clothing, accusing them of wanting nothing but attention. But as I grew older I began to ask myself if that was any worse than a minister holding his Dickson Study Bible (those of you who are older and raised in the CoC will remember the Dickson) high for all to see as he strolled down the center aisle, making his way to the front. What really made this little boy's eyes wide was when the preacher carried in his other hand the brief case carrying his charts (something else only the older ones will remember) then proceeded to hang one up showing "the world on the left, baptism, the church and true worship in the middle, and heaven on the right" with dozens and dozens of scriptures running with the arrows pointing the way. The preacher, his Bible, his chart and his pointer; how magnificent! But he could not wear a collar...that would be wanting attention.

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