It is first chapter of the book. It is an important since it tells us what is religious life. In today’s world, the way we wish to live is also ” on our own”. It was and may be still the reason that I feel reluctant to join the religious life: I am afraid of rules.
It is well known that there are four kinds of monks. The first kind is that of Cenobites, that is, the monastic, who live under a rule and an Abbot.
The first type of the monks, the way St. Benedict summarize is live under a “rule” and an Abbot. When we thought about the monastic life, we thought a lot about the prayers, faster, about all kinds of way to “torture” /”chastise” oneself. Maybe other people have many other imaginations, such eating and drinking( mystic coffee, Carthusian beer…. hahahaha) or live in an idyll life, but above all, St. Benedict emphasize on the “rules”. He has many other following chapters talking about the importance of rules.
The second kind is that of Anchorites, or Hermits, that is, of those who, no longer in the first fervor of their conversion, but taught by long monastic practice and the help of many brethren, have already learned to fight against the devil; and going forth from the rank of their brethren well trained for single combat in the desert, they are able, with the help of God, to cope single-handed without the help of others, against the vices of the flesh and evil thoughts.
The second type of monks is totally another level. It was a kind of type that easy to be misunderstood. It does not mean that they begin enjoy more freedom, but means that their rules become “internalized”. They do not need an abbot to regular them. They regular themselves. It does not mean that life becomes easier, but more difficult because one has to be responsible for oneself and has to face God in person. Do you remember the St. Paul’s letter to Corinthian about the “love”?
It is not an easier life, but a life full of dangers. Without cautious, it is too much easier to become the third type of monks:
But a third and most vile class of monks is that of Sarabaites, who have been tried by no rule under the hand of a master, as gold is tried in the fire (cf Prov 27:21); but, soft as lead, and still keeping faith with the world by their works, they are known to belie God by their tonsure. Living in two’s and three’s, or even singly, without a shepherd, enclosed, not in the Lord’s sheepfold, but in their own, the gratification of their desires is law unto them; because what they choose to do they call holy, but what they dislike they hold to be unlawful.
No rules and no mater, one is totally on one’s own. In the Little flower of St. Francis, there is a chapter about of true religious life (http://soulandsoil.net/2013/03/25/i-would-rather/)…
But the fourth class of monks is that called Landlopers, who keep going their whole life long from one province to another, staying three or four days at a time in different cells as guests. Always roving and never settled, they indulge their passions and the cravings of their appetite, and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites. It is better to pass all these over in silence than to speak of their most wretched life.
Pick and choose.. it is what we do these days. Religious life is a kind of marriages.. In a relationship, if we dismiss the part of commitment, our love is always on the level of external “passion” or “desire”, it will not go deeper. Everybody has its uniqueness. For religious groups, they all have their own characteristic. It needs an “yes” and a life long commitment to make it work.
For those who go from one place to another place is just like the men or women who go from one partners to another.
What does we need in a relationship?
” discerning” ( one of my friend really does not like the word” dating”, since this word has been totally tarnished by this world..lol..)
I think the hardest part for me now is move from the second step to the third step. It needs courage, true courage…