The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 69
An unspoken assumption in this chapter provides a key to understanding its deepest meaning. The assumption is that God is the one against whom any act of defense is undertaken in a Benedictine community. Each member has handed himself over totally to being formed by God, a sacred pact that must not be compromised by even the best of intentions. Sr. Joan reflects,
In a life dedicated to spiritual growth and direction, there is no room for multiple masters. Friends who protect us from our need to grow are not friends at all. People who allow a personal agenda, our need to be right or their need to shield, block the achievement of a broader vision in us and betray us.
It takes profound trust and true discipline both to submit to being formed and to keep from acting in another's defense when we feel as though there is a need for protection or intervention on her behalf. None of us can do the hard work of another's formation. Each of us must entrust each other to the Master.