Friday, July 01, 2005

RB 24 Degrees of Excommunication

In this chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict, we see that one manner of penance universally practiced by monks is fasting. However, what Benedict understands by a fast is perhaps a bit different from our understanding. In the Rule, fasting normally means eating later than normal. The idea isn't to starve the body, which can do harm. Rather, Benedict seems primarily interested in strengthening the will by small increments. He is more interested that we regularly experience hunger.

This brief experience of hunger awakens the monk to the enormous power of the drive to eat. When we had community recreation on Fridays, we used to joke about the fact that we would often talk about food and have to remind ourselves that this sort of vicarious enjoyment is not terribly edifying. Rightly undergone, the discipline of hunger helps us to be more aware of God's providence, clearer in our thinking, purer in our hearts. Also significant is the small sign of solidarity with the many millions who can't eat. We can offer up our hunger for them.

Fasting has gone out of style today, and it this is a danger to the Church. Perhaps St. Benedict's small sacrifice might be a way to reappropriate fasting for ourselves, to the glory of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Jim H. said...

I am glad I read this explanation of fasting. Good info. I am curious though about the title "24 degrees of excommunication"?

Jim H. said...

Well RB 24 OK...I got it! Rule of benedict #24 - "What the measure of excommuication should be"


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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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