most patiently endure one another's infirmities,
whether of body or of character;
vie in paying obedience one to another --
no one following what he considers useful for himself,
but rather what benefits another." - St. Benedict's Rule, Chapter 72
Oblates hear about this chapter of the Rule quite frequently at St. Benedict's Abbey. We especially hear it read when a monk takes monastic vows. I always wonder what the universal church would be like if we could put these words into practice? Imagine a church where all the members anticipated each other with the honor Benedict describes.
Most of us think this goal is impossible. Most of us are right. It is impossible. Benedictines are just like anyone else. Among the monks and oblates of the Abbey we find people who rub us the wrong way. Of course there are times when we also get on other's nerves. And when we're irritated, or when we irritate others there are times we become slightly more than irritated. But in the midst of annoyance there is a feeling of holding back. There is a knowledge of the fact that the one with whom we are angry is one of our brothers or sisters in Christ. So when anger slips out, we calm ourselves, call it back, and make amends.
Doing this is not easy. It is something we all will be practicing until the day we die. Perhaps the wider church can also take up the practice. How about it? That person we are now disagreeing with won't start it by himself or herself. So give it a try. Return anger with love. Will love always be returned to us? Probably not, but that is not the point. The point is to live and act as if the person we disagree with is Jesus.