CHAPTER 54 - Letters or Gifts

In no circumstances is a monastic allowed, unless the prioress/abbot says s/he may, to exchange letters, blessed tokens or small gifts of any kind, with her/his parents or anyone else, or with another monastic. RB 54:1

In our times this first line of Chapter 54 may seem pretty unrealistic. In Benedict's time anything that got in the way of what he saw as the purpose of monastic life was to be avoided. For him the seeking of God in community was the purpose, the ultimate goal. Anything that hindered that goal whether material: gifts, physical: vanity, or psychological: pride was to be avoided. Benedict saw each seeker as equal in the seeking so to have one person be favored by family or friends most likely would undermine the common spirit of community.

Don't you think Benedict has some wisdom for our times?
Equality!
Respect!
Reverence!
Each person valued!