Beuronese Fresco, Abbey of Saint Gabriel, Prague
CHAPTER XXIII. Of Excommunication for Offences
28 Feb. 30 June. 30 Oct.
If any brother shall be found contumacious, or disobedient, or proud, or a murmurer, or in any way transgressing the Holy Rule, and contemning the orders of his seniors; let him, according to our Lord’s commandment, be once or twice privately admonished by his elders. If he do not amend, let him be rebuked in public before all. But if even then he do not correct himself, let him be subjected to excommunication, provided that he understand the nature of the punishment. Should he, however, prove incorrigible, let him undergo corporal chastisement.
Today our father Saint Benedict, like a wise and experienced physician indicates four symptoms of the most virulent pathology that can affect a soul. The five manifestations of this spiritual sickness, like five fingers of a hand, are: contumaciousness (also called defiance or balkiness), disobedience, pride, murmuring, and disdain for the orders of the seniors.
Although pride (superbia) is given as a manifestation, this is the pride by which a man raises himself above others with haughtiness and arrogance, and looks down on others with harsh and condemning eyes. The underlying sickness is also pride, but this pride us different, it is the act or habit of opposing God and His designs. Saint Thomas says:
Pride has extreme gravity, because in other sins man turns away from God, either through ignorance or through weakness, or through desire for any other good whatever; whereas pride denotes aversion from God simply through being unwilling to be subject to God and His rule. (Q. 162, art. 6)
When Mother Mectilde said, “I adore and I submit,” she was summing up what pride is not. The proud man, at some level, sometimes not even consciously, has decided neither to adore God nor to submit to God. All of the woes, sins, miseries, and conflicts of such a man are generated by this fundamental refusal of adoration and submission. But, be careful! We are not Muslims. Our adoration and our submission are not those of one infinitely beneath God and distant from Him. God in Christ has come near, very near, to us, and because we have been brought near, very near, to God in Christ. God, by means of what Saint Irenaeus calls His two hands—the Son and the Holy Ghost—has reached down to us, lifted us up, and placed us upon his heart.
Our adoration and submission, then, are not those of a slave, quaking and cowering in the presence of God. Our adoration and submission are those of a son—no, even more, they are those of The Son, the Only–Begotten, the Beloved—because, as Saint Paul says:
God sent out his Son on a mission to us. He took birth from a woman, took birth as a subject of the law, so as to ransom those who were subject to the law, and make us sons by adoption. To prove that you are sons, God has sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying out in us, Abba, Father. No longer, then, art thou a slave, thou art a son; and because thou art a son, thou hast, by divine appointment, the son’s right of inheritance. (Galatians 4:4–7)
It is not enough to treat the symptoms of a sickness. One must treat the underlying pathology and, if necessary, perform surgery so as to remove the diseased organ, or undergo powerful treatments to kill off the deadly cells. The first step is to submit to whatever treatment God, in His wisdom, ordains for us. No two souls undergo the same treatment. One who wills to be cured must go before Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician, and say, “I adore and I submit.” What does this means? It is a short way of saying:
Lord Jesus Christ, Divine Physician, I adore Thee who art true God and true Man. I adore Thee for whom no thing is impossible. I adore Thee because I have heard and have believed that Thou didst cure those who, being troubled by unclean spirits, came to Thee, and because I have heard and believed that all the multitude sought to touch Thee, for virtue went out from Thee, and healed all (cf. Luke 6:18–19). I adore Thee not as some distant deity, far removed from men, and a stranger to their sufferings; I adore Thee who art very close in the Sacrament of Thy Love, “despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity” (Isaias 53:3). And, adoring Thee, I submit to Thee. I submit to Thee not out of fear, nor out of compulsion, nor by some degrading abdication of my will. I submit to Thee because I believe that, of all the things I could possibly choose to do, there is nothing wiser, nothing sweeter, nothing more lifegiving than submission to Thy operations in my soul. I submit to Thee, who art meek and humble of heart, for those who do not submit to Thee; and I adore Thee for those who do not adore Thee. Receive, then, my adoration and my submission, and repair me and repair those souls who are most in need of Thy presence and of Thy action. Amen.