The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 67
Our Father Benedict acknowledges and seeks to deal here with a spiritual reality that I have experienced often in my life and work in churches. Each person brings with her to church an invisible crowd of other people and past experiences that affect the spiritual climate of the gathering. Sometimes the presence of this unseen crowd is overwhelming. Sometimes it's easy to ignore.
In a Benedictine community, ignoring it is not an option, so St. Benedict wisely makes the unseen dynamics explicit by establishing a protocol whereby the spiritual climate of the community can be cleansed. When we commit ourselves to a vowed life in a religious community, we place ourselves at the mercy of each other's inner well-being. In a significant way, we release our right to carry our baggage alone and claim that its dark contents are nobody's business. We own the fact that we were never successful in the first place at keeping the contents from spilling out onto the people around us. With the illusion of independence removed and replaced with mutual commitment and compassion, we are able to unpack our bags in safety and begin the hard work of bringing what has sat in long darkness into the Light.