Chapter 69: The Presumption of Defending Another in the Monastery

1 Every precaution must be taken that one monk does not presume in any circumstance to defend another in the monastery or to be his champion, 2 even if they are related by the closest ties of blood. 3 In no way whatsoever shall the monks presume to do this, because it can be a most serious source and occasion of contention. 4 Anyone who breaks this rule is to be sharply restrained.

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

Another important matter in community living is learning to keep the appropriate distance from one another. This is not about possible sexual involvements but about emotional involvements. This topic is really important in the Rule and important in daily living.

All of us who have lived monastic life for many years have seen such relationships formed and they do not lead to happy and productive monastic lives or to the formation of a strong monastic community.

All of us make mistakes in our monastic lives and in the way that we live. Saint Benedict’s advice here is to keep us on the right path to interior freedom and to the path of deep, interior prayer.

When inappropriate relationships are formed, the emotions get caught up in one another and can block us from the relationship that we are to have with God. When the emotions are disordered, then the rest of our life can easily become disordered.

So we pray today for the gift of seeing how we are really living and the gift of being able to use all of our energies for this God who loves us so much.