CHAPTER 68 - Assignment of Impossible Tasks

A member may be assigned a burdensome task or something s/he cannot do. If so, s/he should, with complete gentleness and obedience, accept the order give to her/him. Should s/he see, however, that the weight of the burden is altogether too much for her/his strength, s/he should choose the appropriate moment and explain patiently to the prioress/abbot the reasons why s/he cannot perform the task. This s/he ought to do without pride, obstinacy or refusal. If after the explanation the prioress/abbot is still determined to hold to her/his original order, then the junior must recognize that this is best for her/him. Trusting in God's help, s/he must in love obey. (RB 68)

This chapter is simple and clear. We find a three-fold teaching of Benedict: the difficult command and its reception; the acknowledgment of impossibility and the explanation given; the upholding of the command and its performance. Benedict, different than his predecessors (Basil & Cassian), allows for some expression of feelings and provides the opportunity for dialogue. After the dialogue the request may remain the same. Obedience calls for acceptance, which grumbling and murmuring spoil. Given the final decision one is to obey out of love with confidence in the help of God. In the end one tries to do the task as best as one can for the love of God.