The Weak Have Nothing to Run From

I’m inspired and challenged by these words from chapter 64 of The Rule of St. Benedict: The Election of an Abbot:

“Goodness of life and wisdom in teaching must be the criteria for choosing the one to be made abbot, even if he is the last in community rank…

Once in office, the abbot must keep constantly in mind the nature of the burden he has received, and remember to whom he will have to give an account of his stewardship (Luke 16:2).  Let him recognize that his goal must be profit for the monks, not preeminence for himself.  He ought, therefore, to be learned in divine law, so that he has a treasury of knowledge from which he can bring out what is new and old (Matt. 13:52).  He must be chaste, temperate and merciful.  He should always let mercy triumph over judgment (James 2:13) so that he too may win mercy.  He must hate faults but love the brothers.  When he must punish them, he should use prudence and avoid extremes…

Let him strive to be loved rather than feared.

Excitable, anxious, extreme, obstinate, jealous or oversuspicious he must not be.  Such a man is never at rest.  Instead, he must show forethought and consideration in his orders, and whether the task he assigns concerns God of the world, he should be discerning and moderate…drawing on… discretion, the mother of virtues, he must so arrange everything that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from.”

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