Blogging Benedict: Visiting Monks

St Benedict by Fra Angelico

Visiting monks, according to ch. 61, should live as the rest of the monks and can opt to join the monastery if they wish. However, if they spend their time criticising the monastery and its mode of life, they can be kicked out if annoying. If they do wish to join, the abbot must first make sure that they have the approval of their own abbot when possible. This requires a vision of unity.

It’s the ‘no sheep stealing’ rule.

Kicking out annoying visitors doesn’t sound very hospitable, but I wonder if it may not at times be required for the peace of the community. And the good of the annoyer!

No sheep stealing is something we should think about. And as we do so, if our own denomination or congregation has been a victim of sheep theft, rather than judge the thieves, we should ask: Why are our sheep ready to be stolen? (So says John Michael Talbot to Roman Catholics bemoaning Brazilian Catholics becoming Pentecostal.)

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