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May 12, 2019: The Heart of Our Rule

by Father Jadon

Over the last few months our Adult Forums have been delving into the text of a 6th century rule for monastic life attributed to Saint Benedict of Nursia. The modern-day American Benedictine nun Joan Chittister has been our guide, by way of her series of short videos on the “Heart of the Rule.”  While we still have a way to go, so far we have considered everything from the structure of Benedictine prayer and worship, to the challenges of authority and obedience in a Benedictine “family,” to all kinds of day-to-day minutiae in everyday Benedictine life. And it has been somewhat surprising to see, in every short chapter of the guidebook (which some credit with saving Christianity at a time when it seemed to be collapsing), that the heart of every rule aims to encourage and sustain not monastic individualism, but rather holy community. Any community, including ours, has much to learn from this example.  

In the next few weeks and months any number of happenings here at All Souls will have the potential to either build community or wound it.  Our front doors will be painted red. Our community overwhelmingly voted in favor of this, yet some may feel disappointment.  We will be shortening two pews off the center aisle to better welcome those in wheelchairs. We will also remove the back two rows of pews, which will make more room for liturgies at the font, starting with the first great sacrament of Baptism. We will use those pews to replace others that are in worse condition.  We will also begin openly discussing the possibility of starting a small daycare program for infants and toddlers, we will undertake a somewhat messy stonework project along the Woodley Place side of our building, and we will begin planning for several large capital projects (windows, HVAC, organ, etc.) and several new or renewed programmatic efforts (All Souls Serve, elder spirituality, All Souls are Green, etc.) . . . not to mention electing a new warden and vestry members.

Any one of these things has the potential to threaten our sense of community, as any change does. But what Benedict’s rule shows us is that it doesn’t have to. Benedict's rule doesn’t suggest we should silence our opinions. But it does require each of us as individuals to prioritize and place the needs and desires of the community above our own and, once a decision has been made, to agree to disagree lovingly, go to bed prayerfully, and look forward to another day. May these principles be at the heart of our own rule of life together.

Last Published: May 8, 2019 5:39 PM
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