65. The Prior of the Monastery

All too often, it happens that grave scandals arise in monasteries with the appointment of a prior, for some, puffed up with the evil spirit of pride and considering themselves to be second abbots, assume absolute power for themselves, nourish scandals, and cause conflicts in the community.

This happens especially in those places where the prior is also appointed by the same bishop or the same abbots who appointed the abbot. The absurdity of this is easily grasped, because from the very outset of his appointment, he is given grounds for being proud, in that his own thoughts insinuate to him that he is exempt from his abbot’s authority: “You too were appointed by those who also appointed the abbot.”

As a consequence, there arise envy, quarrels, slander, jealousy, conflicts, and disorder. As a result, since the abbot and prior find themselves in opposition to each other, it necessarily follows that this conflict between them puts their souls in danger, and those under them—while trying to please one or the other—go to their ruin. 10 The evil of these dangers rests first of all with those who made themselves the source of such confusion.

11 Therefore, to safeguard peace and love, we see it as expedient that an appointment in his monastery should hinge on the abbot’s decision. 12 And, if it can be done, as we have already arranged, let all the affairs of the monastery be managed by deans, just as the abbot arranges. 13 When this is entrusted to many, it follows that no one becomes proud.

14 If, however, the place requires it, or the community asks with reason and humility, and the abbot judges it best, 15 then let the abbot himself, with the counsel of God-fearing brothers, appoint as his prior whomever he chooses. 16 Then let the prior carry out with reverence those things that the abbot assigns him, while doing nothing contrary to the will or the appointment of the abbot, 17 for the more he is raised above the others, so much more must he be careful to keep the teachings of the Rule.

18 If the prior is found full of evil ways, or, deceived by pride, if he becomes arrogant, or shows himself contemptuous of the Holy Rule, let him be counseled up to four times. 19 If he does not change, let the correction of the discipline of the Rule come to bear on him. 20 If even then he does not set things just right, let him be cast out of the office of prior, and let another who is worthy be called to take his place.

21 If, after that, he is not peaceful and obedient in the community, let him even be expelled from the monastery. 22 Even so, the abbot should bear in mind that he is to render an account to God for all his decisions, lest perhaps the fire of envy or jealousy is burning in his soul.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

The Rule of Benedict by Saint Meinrad Archabbey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book