CHAPTER 24 - Degrees of Excommunication

There ought to be due proportion between the seriousness of a fault and the measure of excommunication or discipline. RB 24:1

Benedict saw the communal meal as a virtual sacrament. For ancient people, sharing in a meal was symbolic of common life and deep unity. Exclusion was no slight hardship. Meals were communal events in which all took an active part. Those who followed Benedict shared their lives at meals. To be excluded from this participation could be a form of death, for those who value their place in the community.

What Benedict described in this chapter was two kinds of excommunication. The first, for lighter faults against the unity and peace of the community, a person would be separated from the common table and denied the right to lead prayer. The second, for more serious faults that seem to purposefully damages the community's well-being, a person would not be permitted to participate in community prayer, social life, and table. Quite a severe punishment then and now.