Fall is such a reviving and reflective time of year. It is also a time to look at our own monastic life to reflect on the fruits it may – or may not – be bearing in t
he community. We reap the harvest of our life just as we reap the harvest each fall for our winter storage of food.
In The Way of Life, Abbot Dom Gabriel Braso writes:
“We touch here on what is, perhaps, the most serious and delicate problem for Abbots and Abbesses, to know how to maintain the firmness and clarity of principles without falling into an intransigent and inhuman concern for perfection. To know how to remain understanding, discrete and liberal, while neither letting go of the tiller nor opening the monastery doors to laxity. In chapter 64, St. Benedict seeks to give the Abbot rightful measure of this prudent equilibrium: ‘He must hate faults but love the brothers.’ [St. Benedict] tries to explain further what it means, ‘ By this we do not mean that he should allow faults to flourish but rather he should prune them away with prudence and love as he sees best for each individual.’”
It is also important to remember that we do not hate anybody. Every person is a child of God. Every one bears the image of Christ. But the Abbess needs to help those under her to recognize where they need to bear His image more, where have they have lost that image in their lives. She also needs to remind them of the virtues of a monk. What makes a monk different? What makes us pursue the life we are living? Are we looking for perfection or a place to nest and be comfortable? Do we only do just enough to make it work? I don’t think that is what St. Benedict would have wanted. His way is a simply seeking the right way, the way of Christ, within the view of the Rule.