63. Seniority in the Community

Let them keep their seniority in the monastery from the time of their conversatio, or according to the merit of their life, or as the abbot decides. The abbot should not stir up the flock committed to him, nor should he unjustly put anything in place by the arbitrary use of power. Rather, let him always bear in mind that he will have to render an account to God for all his decisions and deeds.

Therefore, according to the seniority which the abbot has established or which they have, let the brothers approach for the sign of peace, for Communion, or to intone a psalm, or to stand in the choir. In everything and everywhere, let age not determine or prejudice seniority, for, as boys, Samuel and Daniel judged their elders (1 Sam 3; Dan 13:44-62).

Therefore, except for those, as we have said, whom the abbot has promoted for higher motives or has demoted for certain reasons, all the rest should be in the order in which they began their conversatio. As a result, for example, the one who came at the second hour of the day should realize that he is junior in the monastery to the one who came at the first hour of the day, whatever his age or dignity.

The order for children should be maintained by everyone in everything.

10Therefore, let the juniors honor their seniors, and let the seniors love their juniors. 11 When calling each other by name, no one should be allowed to use just the name, 12 but seniors should call their juniors “brothers,” and the juniors should call their seniors “nonnus” which means “reverend father.”

13 The abbot, however, since he is believed to act in the place of Christ, should be called lord and abbot, not because he has claimed it for himself, but for the honor and love of Christ. 14 He himself, then, should reflect on this and present himself in such a way that he is worthy of such an honor.

15 Whenever the brothers meet each other, the junior should ask a blessing of the senior. 16 When a senior passes by, the junior should rise and give him a place to sit; the junior should not presume to sit down unless his senior first bids him, 17 so that it may be as is written:

Let them strive to be the first to show each other honor. (Rom 12:10)

18 Small children and youths should follow their own seniority keeping good order in the oratory and at table. 19 Also, outside and everywhere, they are to be kept safe and in good order until they come to the age of understanding.



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