The second kind are the Anchorites or Hermits: those who, no longer in the first fervor of their reformation, but after long probation in a monastery, having learned by the help of many brethren how to fight against the devil, go out well armed from the ranks of the community to the solitary combat of the desert. They are able now, with no help save from God, to fight single-handed against the vices of the flesh and their own evil thoughts.
The third kind of monks, a detestable kind, are the Sarabaites. These, not having been tested, as gold in the furnace (Wis. 3:6), by any rule or by the lessons of experience, are as soft as lead. In their works they still keep faith with the world, so that their tonsure marks them as liars before God. They live in twos or threes, or even singly, without a shepherd, in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord's. Their law is the desire for self-gratification: whatever enters their mind or appeals to them, that they call holy; what they dislike, they regard as unlawful.
The fourth kind of monks are those called Gyrovagues. These spend their whole lives tramping from province to province, staying as guests in different monasteries for three or four days at a time. Always on the move, with no stability, they indulge their own wills and succumb to the allurements of gluttony, and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites. Of the miserable conduct of all such it is better to be silent than to speak.
Passing these over, therefore, let us proceed, with God's help, to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks, the Cenobites." Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 1
Here, immediately after his introduction, Benedict brings up one of his first, and most important requirements for followers of his Rule, stability. We are to stable to one monastery, and not jump from one to another without very strong reasons. Being stable to my abbey has never been an issue to me. Since I arrived at my first annual Oblate's gathering, Saint Benedict's has been my spiritual home. In my Oblate/Pastoral life, stability has been quite another matter.
I believe this part of the Rule has been very much on my mind lately as I near the probable end of my current Interim Pastorate. The congregation's Pastor Nominating Committee seems well into the process of picking the settled pastor who will succeed me. Because of this I am preparing my credentials to search for my ninth pastorate.
While I will be actively seeking a settled pastorate near my family, and am very open to a non-traditional/neo-monastic church plant, with traditions and bylaws based on Saint Benedict's Rule, it seems likely I will soon begin another interim. No matter how I look at it, I find it difficult to see nine pastorates, serving ten congregations, as stability. Actually I was once convinced it was instability until another Oblate pointed out I was stable to my profession, that of Interim Pastor or as Presbyterians now call it, Transformational Pastor. Thanks for pointing that out Brian!
But as I have learned, while I need to do the leg work of a search, Someone else has charge of the results. Over time, I have learned the hard way to not ignore indications about where I am called. And after all there is something very exciting about throwing myself into the Spirit's wind and finding out where I wii land.
Thank you Father Benedict for establishing stable communities where even someone whose ministry requires frequent change may find a stable rock as a Spititual home.
Brother Oscar Romero