Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TFTD: St. Benedict on Humility

In light of the high profile cases of conflict between priest and bishop, I was struck by the relevance of this passage from The Rule of St. Benedict concerning the humility of the monks:

The fourth degree of humility is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind when in this obedience he meets with difficulties and contradictions and even any kind of injustice, enduring all without growing weary or running away.  For the Scripture says,

"The one who perseveres to the end, is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);

and again

"Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26[27]:14)!

And to show how those who are faithful ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord, the Scripture says in the person of the suffering, "For Your sake we are put to death all the day long; we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43[44]:22; Rom. 8:36).

Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense, they go on with joy to declare, "But in all these trials we conquer, through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).

Again, in another place the Scripture says, "You have tested us, O God; You have tried us as silver is tried, by fire; You have brought us into a snare; You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).

And to show that we ought to be under a Superior, it goes on to say, "You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65[66]:12).

Moreover, by their patience those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command in adversities and injuries: when struck on one cheek, they offer the other; when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak; when forced to go a mile, they go two; with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26) and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).

Now I recognize that not all religious orders follow the Rule of St. Benedict.  I also recognize that the diocesan priests are a different matter than religious priests.  However, when we have these cases of high profile disputes between priest and bishops, I find myself wondering what the saints of past centuries would think of the defiance against the lawful Church authority.

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