Let him keep guard over his own soul, mindful always of the Apostle's saying that "he who has ministered well will acquire for himself a good standing" (1 Tim. 3:13).Let him take the greatest care of the sick, of children, of guests and of the poor, knowing without doubt that he will have to render an account for all these on the Day of Judgment.
Let him regard all the utensils of the monastery and its whole property as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar. Let him not think that he may neglect anything. He should be neither a miser nor a prodigal and squanderer of the monastery's substance, but should do all things with measure and in accordance with the Abbot's instructions." Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 31
This is the reading for last Sunday. It really struck me! It seemed to be a description of a living saint! At first I simply ignored this chapter, thinking, as I sometimes do, of our Abbot's comment that the Rule of Saint Benedict has never been followed completely literally. But then I took a deeper look at it and started comparing it to the PC(USA) Book of Order, the second part of my denominations constitution.
This part of it says: " . . . Will you be governed by our churches polity, and will you abide by its discipline? Will you be a friend among your colleagues in ministry, working with them, subject to the ordering of God's word and Spirit? Will you in your whole life seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, love your neighbors, and work for the reconciliation of the world? . . . Will you pray for and seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love? . . ."
These are words from our denomination's ordination service for pastors, elders, and deacons. This doesn't exactly fit, but it seems to come pretty close. The words addressed to the individuals carry it further. (For ruling elder) Will you be a faithful ruling elder, watching over the people, providing for their worship, nurture, and service? Will you government indiscipline serving in the councils of the church, and in your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ?" (For deacons) will you be a faithful deacon, teaching charity, urging concern, and directing the people's help to the friendless and those in need, and in your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ?" (For pastors) will you be a faithful teaching elder proclaiming the good news in Word and sacrament, teaching faith in caring for people? . . . and in your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ?"
Leaving out the word "Abbot," it sounds pretty similar, especially in small icongregations where everyone has been ordained as an elder or deacon. Thank you Father Benedict, and to the authors of our constitution for these words, for their reminders of both work, and charity.
Brother Oscar Romero