To begin, let us set aside the remarks about physical punishment; they are a stumbling block for our understanding. As Sr. Joan writes,
Beating people with the rod is considered neither good pedagogy nor good parenting now, and the notion of whipping full-grown adults is simply unthinkable. Times have changed; theories of behavior modification have changed; the very concept of adulthood has changed; this living of the rule has changed."
But she continues,
What has not changed, however, is the idea that human development demands that we grow through and grow beyond childish un-control to maturity and that we be willing to correct things in ourselves in order to do it, whatever the cost.
This is the essence of St. Benedict's theory of correction for faults. If one is to follow upon this path, the defiant self-will must be relinquished, and there is only so much anyone else can do to inspire and encourage its relinquishment. When, after all the measures at the disposal of human community are undertaken to loosen one's obstinate grip, there comes a point when one must be released from the care of the community to make one's way with clenched fists through the world outside. To do otherwise would force the community to distort around the defiant one, to accommodate the phenomenon like organs accommodate a tumor. Any leader who would knowingly allow such tumors to grow and harm the body does not follow in the footsteps of our Father Benedict.