CHAPTER 63 - Community Rank

Monastics keep their rank in the monastery according to the date of their entry, the virtue of their lives, and the decision of the prioress/abbot. RB 63:1

Having a "place" in the community was very important to Benedict. To him each person was a unique, special and reverenced presence of Christ.

This "placeness" is not new to Benedict. It is as old as cenobitism itself. Pachomius (292-348 AD) structured his community on this concept of being "counted" by entry - when one responded to God's call.

Several centuries later in Benedict's time society was marked by social stratification. Social status brought privilege or poverty. In the situation after Benedict's time, the Middle Ages (late 5th century through the 15th century), many monasteries only admitted the wealthy and nobles.

For Benedict the "ordering" was simple: "the one who comes at the first hour is senior to the one who comes at the second hour (63:8)". Both nobles and peasants were welcomed by Benedict. Once one was accepted into the community, none of the former distinctions counted. Only the date of entry - the day, the hour, the moment one embraced the monastic way of life - marked one's "place" among the community of seekers.

May we too remember that each person is a unique, special and reverenced presence of Christ!