The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 44
The oratory and the table are the two pillars of common life in a Benedictine monastery, and when one member violates her responsibilities to the community, she endangers the very life she has vowed to uphold. Without explaining away the harshness of St. Benedict's instructions here, I hear in this chapter a call to consider how profoundly our personal spiritual health affects the common life we have vowed to share with others. As Sr. Joan writes in conclusion to her commentary on today's passage,
This chapter forces us to ask, in an age without penances and in a culture totally given to individualism, what relationships we may be betraying by selfishness and what it would take to cure ourselves of the self-centeredness that requires the rest of the world to exist for our own convenience.