Chapter 32: The Tools and Goods of the Monastery

1 The goods of the monastery, that is, its tools, clothing or anything else, should be entrusted to brothers whom the abbot appoints and in whose manner of life he has confidence. 2 He will, as he sees fit, issue to them the various articles to be cared for and collected after use. 3 The abbot will maintain a list of these, so that when the brothers succeed one another in their assigned tasks, he may be aware of what he hands out and what he receives back. 4 Whoever fails to keep the things belonging to the monastery clean or treats them carelessly should be reproved, 5 If he does not amend, let him be subjected to the discipline of the rule.

Commentary by Philip Lawrence, OSB, Abbot of Christ in the Desert

We turn from the office of the Cellarer of the monastery now to the actual goods of the monastery, which are under the care of the Cellarer. Note that it is the abbot still who appoints the monks who are to be in charge of these various goods of the monastery. The Cellarer has his role, but he does not appoint his own “team” of cooperators in the monastery. It is always the abbot who appoints various monks to various positions in the community.

We need also to make note that the abbot should appoint brothers in whose manner of life he has confidence. This is an important qualification in a monastery. No monk can demand that the abbot have confidence in his way of life. The only way that a monk can gain that confidence is to lead a way of life that gains the abbot’s confidence. To come to the abbot and say “trust me” does not good if the monk’s way of life shows that he does not have respect for the monastic life and does not use his energy to live a strong monastic life.

Today most abbots do not keep lists of all the various articles of the monastery. On the other hand, there is certainly a need for the abbot to know what the monastery has and what it does not have. The brothers in charge of the various areas of the monastery should also have a good idea of what the monastery has and does not have.

At the end of this fairly short chapter, we have an admonition to keep the things of the monastery clear and to treat them with care. The great challenges in communities today are especially the common areas, the kitchen and bathrooms. It is really important to work at keeping a clean monastery in every area of the buildings and in the natural habitat as well. This one of the many areas that the abbot will have to mention over and over and over–and never will there be complete success.

May the Lord help us all take care of all that the Lord has given to us!