Every age and understanding

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CHAPTER XXX. How the Younger Boys Are to Be Corrected

7 Mar. 7 July. 6 Nov.
Every age and understanding should have its proper measure of discipline. As often, therefore, as boys or others under age, or unable to understand the greatness of the penalty of excommunication, commit faults, let them be punished by severe fasting or sharp stripes, in order that they may be cured.

Proper Measure of Discipline

Monasteries no longer have little oblates: boy-monks offered to God by their parents and thus enrolled in the school of the Lord's service. This chapter cannot however, for this reason, be discounted. It contains two important principles. The first principle is that, "every age and understanding should have its proper measure of discipline." Men come to the monastery with various degrees of emotional maturity and experience. Not all can grasp the value and significance of the whole observance immediately. It takes time -- a lifetime -- to make a monk. In Benedictine life there is a readiness to adjust objective standards of discipline to the age and understanding of individuals. It is not a question of one size fitting all.

That They May Have Life

The second principle is that any disciplinary measures are taken for the sake of a monk's inner healing: in order that they may be cured. Monastic discipline is curative and, in the noblest sense of the word, therapeutic. It is not merely punitive. It is at the service of life, and of life in abundance. "I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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