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The Reception of Visiting Monastics

Friday, August 16, 2024

If, however, they have shown that they are not the kind of persons who deserve to be dismissed, let them, on their request, be received as a member of the community. They should even be urged to stay, so that others may learn from their example, because wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same God. Further, the prioress or abbot may set such a person in a somewhat higher place in the community, if they see that they deserve it. The prioress or abbot has the power to set any one of them above the place that corresponds to the date of their entry, if they see that their life warrants it.

The prioress and abbot must, however, take care never to receive into the community anyone from another known monastery, unless the prioress or abbot of that community consents and sends a letter or recommendation, since it is written:"Never do to another what you do not want done to yourself (Tb 4:16)."

Elie Weisel writes that: "What God gave Adam was not forgiveness from sin; what God gave Adam was the chance to begin again." Life is made up of a series of opportunities to begin again. Benedictine spirituality builds that possibility and that obligation right into the rule. Even monastics may move from monastery to monastery in their search for God. No one, in other words, has a call simply to a particular place, as good as it may be. The call of God is to the Will of God. Consequently, though every institution mediates the call of God for us, every vocation transcends any particular institution. The question is always: is this group, this place calling out the best in me? Is this where I fit? Is this the place where I can most become what God created me to be? Is this the path on which I see the footsteps of God most clearly in front of me?

It is not a matter of one place being better than another. It is a matter of finding our way through life with an eye for turns in the road. It is a matter of always taking the right turn when settling for less would be so much easier. It is a matter of seeing change as a creative possibility in life.