Post #22.2, Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Historical setting: 584 C.E. Eve’s house on the River Loire

         This new morning we finish the chores and now find our place on the garden bench for the reading lesson. Anatase read ahead again and warns me of the dreariness of monastery stories. And again, I beg to know what has happened with my friends in my missing years.

         “Very well” Anatase agrees, if you must know, Page 5 is  ‘The Rule’ Nic writes, ‘So, brother Laz, when you come back into a community of brothers you will learn the bishop of Rome seems smitten by St. Benedict of Narsia who wrote The Rule. Here at Ligugè we borrowed a copy to pass among ourselves to consider. We immediately sent it on to the convent of Poitiers.’

         “’I tell you this that you may be warned. Life may soon change for all of us who choose to live in Christian community. The Rule was probably meant for a monastery that takes in the young boys of nobility and trains them to be humble and responsible. Mostly it structures prayers and psalms to guide daily life, but it’s narrower and more specific than was our practice as fellow travelers with the spiritual Christ. Having served in the Roman military it’s not the structure and the order that disturbs me. All the order and uniformity of detail is fine with me. Details, like ‘Sunday Lauds should begin with Psalm 67, chanted straight through without the antiphon. [footnote] [blogger’s note] I surely don’t fear the structure as Brothers August and Joel do. That is all fine.’

         “But I feel I must warn you. My concern for you and your life to come lies in the human bent on judgments and punishments. Brothers August and Joel and I, as well, would never have found a place here at Ligugè if they were following this rule. In this it seems God is only briefly mentioned as a far off purpose, but the judgements and punishments are always of earth or hell. It is the bishop or simply a chosen abbot who determines goodness and badness in everything. Our abbot would judge us fairly, but he is old. This whole plan speaks more about the sins and the battle with evil than it cares for the love of God. Maybe we’re missing something but that’s how we are reading it.’”

         “I have to say Anatase, you are doing so well with all these hard words.”

         “I’ve been practicing ahead. But the next part has the strangest words of all. They are things I never hear said in real life.”

[footnote] White, Carolinne, Translator, The Rule of Benedict, (Penguin Books, London: 2008) p. 32

[blogger’s note] For the sake of open mindedness it should be said, the fictional characters in this blog do not reflect a modern Catholic appreciation for “The Rule” which can be found in other sources such as: Joan D. Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today (HarperSanFrancisco: 1991)

 (Continues tomorrow)

Published by J.K. Marlin

Retired church playwright learning new art forms-- fiction writing, in historical context and now blogging these stories. The Lazarus Pages have a recurring character -- best friend of Jesus -- repeatedly waking to life in various periods of church history and spirituality.

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