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Nourished by Our Roots - the Rule of Saint Augustine: Day Twenty Three

Written by Fr Richard Peers, posted on Sunday, November 29, 2020

Day Twenty Three

5:7. Whenever necessity requires a visit to the public baths or any other place, no fewer than two or three should go. When someone has to leave the house, he ought to go with companions designated by the superior, not with persons of his own choosing.

V.       You have made us for yourself, O Lord. [Alleluia].
       Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in you.  [Alleluia].


The last passage we looked at was about trust. This passage might seem to be the opposite of trust. But in fact it is a recognition of the fallen-ness, the vulnerability of humanity that is part of Augustine’s understanding of human nature. Trust is one thing, but trust should not make us foolish. Much scorn has been poured on certain American male politicians who do not allow themselves to be alone in a room with a woman they are not married to.  But it is hard not to recognise that certain other politicians would have saved themselves and others a good deal of heart ache if they had been more careful about who they found themselves alone in a room with.

I remember once when talking to a member of a monastic community about how he and his community spent their rest time, what we might call holiday, I was taken aback that the community prior selects the companions for that rest period. Different combinations of the community each year. Once again we are confronted with the reality of losing choice that occurs if we join a community. There is also the reality of being of ‘one heart and mind;’ with people we would not choose to spend time with, people we are not attracted to.

This element of submitting not just to the will of a superior but to the common mind of a community is a tough one. We are so used to a supermarket mentality even in religion. We choose a church that suits us, uses the style of music we like, sings the hymns we would choose. And complain if any of that changes.  Even at church events we are tempted to sit next to the people whose company we enjoy. What if we deliberately sat with the people who annoy us? Worked at enjoying their company, being of  ‘one heart and mind’ with them. We might not be able to pool all our goods but that, at least ought to be possible?


May the Lord
grant that we may observe all these things with love,
as lovers of spiritual beauty,
radiating by our lives
the sweet fragrance of Christ,
not like slaves under the law
but as free persons
established in grace.
Through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord. 



You can find the full text of the Rule of saint Augustine by clicking here