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Dissing and Defending


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Slides from Presentation by Sister Edith Bogue at the November 2016 meeting of the Benedictine Oblates of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, MN. One in a series of presentations on the Hard Sayings of St. Benedict, drawing its inspiration from the twin commands to neither defender nor complain about the others in the community.

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Dissing and Defending

  1. 1. Dissing and Defending: Hard Sayings of St. Benedict #3 Sister Edith Bogue Duluth Benedictine Oblate Meeting 13 November 2016
  2. 2. 2 DISSING PopeFrancis,Angelus,16Feb2014
  3. 3. 3 Dissing?
  4. 4. 4 Dissing in Modern Culture  Frequently featured in TV and movies  Key element of celebrity news  Seen as a skill that can be learned  People carefully craft and practice the delivery of their disses  Dissing competitions occur • Some with cash prizes • Both in person and online
  5. 5. 5 HowToDissSomeone,wikiHow
  6. 6. 6
  7. 7. 7 Whataresomegooddissesorinsultsicansaytosomeonewhoisbullyingme? Answers to the question, "What are some good disses or insults I can say to someone who is bullying me?" About 6 answers later, someone says, "Maybe this will make it worse. "
  8. 8. 8 St. Benedict's View  In the Prologue of the Rule, mastery of the tongue is the first key to following Jesus:  "And the Lord …says again: Who is it who desires life, and longs to see good days? (Ps 34:12) And if you… respond, “I am the one!” God says to you: “If you desire true and everlasting life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn aside from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." (Psalm 34:13-14). RuleofSt.Benedict,translationbyFr.LukeDysinger
  9. 9. 9 The Tools of Good Works  Ch 4.39-40: "Not given to murmuring or to speaking ill of others (Wis 1:11)."  Ch 4.51,53: "To keep custody of one’s mouth against depraved speech, not to speak words that are vain or apt to provoke laughter (cf. 2 Tim 2:16)."
  10. 10. 10 Ch 5: Restraint of Speech  St. Benedict is not praising silence. This chapter focuses on the danger of speech, and limits it.  On account of the importance of restraint in speech, let permission to speak be seldom granted even to perfect disciples, … for it is written: In speaking much you cannot avoid sin (Prov 10:19); and elsewhere Death and life are in the hands of the tongue (Prov 18:21).  But as for ridiculing or otiose words which induce laughter, we permanently ban them in every place; neither do we permit a disciple to open his mouth in such discourse.
  11. 11. 11 Humility and Speaking  In the early stages of humility, Benedict repeats his emphasis on restraint of speech.  In the 11th step, he describes the positive or good use of speech: for communication:  The eleventh step of humility is that when speaking the monk does so gently and without laughter, humbly and with gravity, speaking few but reasonable words, and that his voice is not clamorous: as it is written, A wise man is known by his few words. (The Sentences of Sextus 145)
  12. 12. 12 Distinguish Criticism from Correction
  13. 13. 13  With a grace-filled reaction. We must lead our heart and not follow it now. Pause, take a deep breath and fight for a gracious response.  Resist being defensive. Being argumentative now is not wise. Your heart will lie to you until God overrides it with loving truth about your condition.  Lean in and learn. Not every correction is completely true but nearly all have a kernel of truth. Sifting the words to God for confirmation is key. Wise people allow correction to grow them and change them.  Lead even in correction. We cannot lead others to places we have not gone. Receiving correction with wisdom and humility is a powerful example at home or at church. FourTipsonHowtoAcceptCorrection
  14. 14. 14 Individual or Communal?  Benedict explicitly shows concern for the individual soul. His Rule creates a setting in which virtue is easy and sinning difficult.  He also sees and cares for the web of relationships. He recognizes the harm done to the common life by broken relationships and hurtful speech. -01/Mothers%20Community%20Network/072%20community%20network%20-%20rikilo%20-%20fotolia.jpg
  15. 15. 15 Pope Francis: CommunionPopeFrancis,ApostolicLetterforYearofConsecratedLife,adapted. francesco_lettera-ap_20141121_lettera-consacrati.html#_ftn6 I am hoping that the “spirituality of communion” will become a reality and that you will make "the Church the home & the school of communion." …Communion is lived first and foremost within the communities of each Institute. So I ask you to think about my frequent comments about criticism, gossip, envy, jealousy, hostility as ways of acting which have no place in our houses. This being the case, the path of charity open before us is almost infinite, since it entails mutual acceptance and concern, practicing a communion of goods both material and spiritual, fraternal correction and respect for those who are weak … it is the “mystique of living together” which makes our life “a sacred pilgrimage.” … How can we enable each member to say freely what he or she thinks, to be accepted with his or her particular gifts, and to become fully co-responsible?
  16. 16. 16 DEFENDING FromwikiHOW,DefendYourselfFromBullies,
  17. 17. 17 Chapter 69  This Chapter is purely St. Benedict's own writing; it does not draw on any sources.  Notice the strong terms: every, any, even, most  "Every precaution must be taken that no one in the monastery presumes on any occasion to defend another monk or to act as his protector, even if they are closely related by some sort of blood ties. The monks must not presume to do this in any way whatever, because from it may arise the most grievous occasions of scandals. If anyone transgresses this, he is to be severely punished."
  18. 18. 18 Chapter 70  Immediate following the presumption of defending is the rejection of punishment So as to avoid in the monastery every occasion of presumption, we decree that no one has the right to excommunicate or strike any of his brothers, unless he has received power do to so by the abbot. For sinners are to be reproved before all, so that the rest may have fear. (I Tim. 5:20) 4 Children, however, up to fifteen years of age are to be kept under diligent and watchful discipline by all: yet this too is to be done reasonably and with all measure. For if anyone without precept from the abbot presumes authority over those who are above that age, or if he acts towards children without discretion, he is to be subjected to the discipline of the Rule; for it
  19. 19. 19 “Let no one be disturbed…”  St. Benedict’s thinking here is clear. He is pursuing the same goal through two paths. • The good of the individual monastic: oWhat to avoid doing oWhat to do (much of the rest of the Rule) • The good of the community as the workshop in which we go to God oNot creating the “occasion of sin” oPatience is promoted so that one person’s failing does not become a poison to all
  20. 20. 20 DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH “The divisions make you see only this part, and the other part is opposed to this: always opposed, there is no oil of unity, the balm of unity”.
  21. 21. 21 Meditation of Sept 12, 2016  “But “being naive, we are playing [the devil’s] game”, Pope Francis said, adding: “And I will say more about war: the war of divisions is a dirty war, it is like terrorism. Let us look at a clear example: when in a Christian community — be it a parish, college or institution, whatever it may be — you gossip, you drop a bomb to destroy the other”; and in this way “the other is destroyed” but “I am fine, and I can continue”. This is “the terrorism of gossip!”. The Pope pointed out that the Apostle James “also said: the tongue kills; it drops a bomb, therefore, it destroys”, while “I remain”.
  22. 22. 22  Discerning carefully our cultural inputs  Working on offering correction with as much love and care as possible.  Working on receiving correction for growth.  Avoiding “dissing” in all its parts.  Care the mood of the group. Not fake, but always giving as much cheer as you can.  Refusal to step into factions. Living this is a difficult art, worthy of much effort.
  23. 23. 23 Your Turn  Times that correction or defending did not go well.  Reflections on the readings.  Reflections on the conference.  Refreshments!