Our Father Benedict goes to great lengths in this chapter to make very clear that the Abbot is in charge and that there is no question whatsoever about under whom the Prior serves. Let us remember, though, that the authority exercised by the Abbot is in the spirit of Christ, not in the spirit of the world around us. Christlike authority can hold in tension the two statements: "All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me" and "not my will, but yours be done."
A Benedictine community is to be centered around the mystical reality of a soul's union with God and with others. Just as Christ lives to remove that which separates from God and each other, the Abbot holds the space in community for this reality to manifest. Conflicts of the nature described in this passage serve to shift focus from this central intention of the group onto, as Sr. Joan says, "the multiple minor agendas of its members. At that moment, the mystical dimension of the community turns into just one more arm wrestling match among contenders."