1 Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment. 2 Therefore, as often as boys and the young, or those who cannot understand the seriousness of the penalty of excommunication, 3 are guilty of misdeeds, they should be subjected to severe fasts or checked with sharp strokes so that they may be healed.
Commentary by Philip Lawrence, OSB, Abbot of Christ in the Desert
This is a very special chapter in the Rule which treats of the problems of young or those who cannot understand the seriousness of excommunication. Today most westerners who enter monasteries find it very difficult to understand excommunication. Most of us from the west prefer to be alone so that we can do what we want to do without interference.
The people of Saint Benedict’s time are entirely different. They want to live together and to be part of a group. We want to live alone and be responsible for no one.
As we listen to this chapter of the Rule of Benedict, we can reflect on our own responses to our monastic life. It is not easy to be a monk with all our heart and soul. It is not difficult tp be a monk who is aware of all that is happening around us but who still wants to live an active sexual life or an a active life of someone who is not sure that God will protect us against others.
Saint Benedict wants us to understand here that there are levels of responsibility in monastic life. Young people are not as responsible as older ones. On the other hand, some people never seem able to take responsibility and we have to beware of that. We cannot expect everyone to be the same. So we give some people authority and responsibility and others never get such authority and responsibility. We can never thing that people are all just the same.
We when we come to this chapter, we should think of the may ways in which responsibility and care for one another happen. There are times when we know hat we cannot care of our relatives, but we have to be responsible and active. May the Lord lead us all the days of responsibilities and beyond.