Next, each one of you is to have a separate cell, situated as the lie of the land you propose to occupy may dictate, and allotted by disposition of the Prior with the agreement of the other brothers, or the more mature among them.
– Rule of St. Albert, No. 6
When Dom Christian decided that his community of Cistercian monks in Algeria would stay despite the danger they were facing, the members of his community were furious because they were not consulted. In one of their meetings one of his older confreres, Brother Amedee, reminded him, “We did not elect you leader to make decisions on your own.”
Power blinds us just as much as it burdens us. To be able to hold the fate of others is such a big responsibility that we sometimes overlook the fact that the power to decide is not absolutely ours. Take our planet for example. God gave the Earth to mankind for him to take care and protect, but what did we do? The power to decide often led us to make selfish decisions which consequently do not only affect us but the greater majority, as well.
Youth, idealism, it blinds us in making decisions. Sometimes we become arrogant thinking that people gave us the power to decide because they believe us to be better than most. Other times we feel that we are the only ones who know what’s best, and we’re the only ones who are concerned of the welfare of those who have been entrusted to us. The rest, they just don’t care.
We need to have a reality check.
The wisdom of age and number does not only help us to see and consider other options but it also allows us to share the burden with the community. Community is not just about being together in the best of times, it is also about being together in the worst of times.
Were there instances wherein you withheld a problem from the community fearing that what you wanted may not be what the community wants?
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
Lord, grant me a submissive heart and strengthen my desire to be with the community and allow me to fully surrender myself to your community. Shed of my self-interest in favor of that of the majority. Amen.