The Stuff of Life

18 April 2009

Chapter 31 of the Rule of Benedict states’

Let [the cellarer] regard all the utensils of the monastery
and its whole property
as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar.

Our households have no cellarer.  Indeed, the monasteries I’m familiar with don’t even have cellarers.  They’re small enough that the abbot or prior can manage the “stuff” of the monastery: food, supplies, money, etc.
Although I have not been reading the Rule regularly for a year or two, this chapter is always ringing in my ears.

Whether it’s putting away leftovers or tossing dirty clothes into the laundry, I’ve been trying to treat all things as if they’re “sacred vessels of the altar”.

The idea here is that Benedict is saying that all we have is sacred.  The whole of our house should be treated as if it had the sacredness of the altar.

That’s not to say that the altar is not special or that the mundane things are just as sacred as the most holy things.

But it is a great exercise in humility to try to treat everything like the amazing blessing it is.  As if even my ratty sandals should be treated with great reverence.

It’s tough.

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