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Qualifications of The Monastery Cellarer

Tuesday, July 9, 2024
Chapter 31

Above all, let the cellarer be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, the cellarer will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: "A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17)." Cellarers should take care of all that the prioress or abbot entrusts to them, and not presume to do what they have forbidden. They will provide the members their allotted amount of food without any pride or delay, lest they be led astray. For cellarers must remember what the scripture says that person deserves "who leads one of the little ones astray (Mt 18:6)."

If the community is rather large, the cellarer should be given helpers, so that with assistance it becomes possible to perform the duties of the office calmly. Necessary items are to be requested and given at the proper times, so that no one may be disquieted or distressed in the house of God.

The cellarer gets a lesson from Benedict that we all need to learn sometime in life: we have a responsibility to serve others "without any pride or delay, lest they be led astray." It is not right, in other words, to tax other people's nervous systems, to try other people's virtues, to burden other people's already weary lives in order to satisfy our own need to be important. We don't have to lead them into anger and anxiety, frustration and despair. We don't need to keep them waiting; we don't need to argue their requests; we don't need to count out every weight to the ounce, every bag to the gram, every dollar to the penny. We can give freedom and joy with every gift we give or we can give guilt and frugality. The person with a Benedictine tenor learns here to err on the side of largesse of spirit.