The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Prayer for an abbot

Eucharistic Adoration is being held from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Archabbey Church during the first four Wednesdays of March—times specifically set aside for private prayer as we prepare to elect a new archabbot on June 2. During the first such period this afternoon, I was struck by the window shown here, which is above the main doors of the Archabbey Church, as an image of the ideal abbot—modeled, of course, on Christ the Good Shepherd.

So, with this image in mind, and in the presence of the Real Presence, I read and prayed with the two chapters of St. Benedict’s Rule (2 and 64) which deal with the qualities or election of an abbot.

While all are welcome to join us in the Archabbey Church on these afternoons as we silently pray for our monastic community and its next abbot, not all are able, of course. However, you can still pray for and with us, wherever you are. Please do. Below is a simple prayer I’ve put together based on my reading of Chapters 2 and 64 of the Rule, which may help. Better yet, get a copy of the Rule and pray with Chapters 2 and 64 on your own! In any event, please keep us in prayer.

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Lord God,
as we prepare to elect a new abbot,
who holds the place of Christ in the monastery,
guide us by your Holy Spirit to select someone
who never teaches or decrees or commands
apart from your will.

Help him to be a good and faithful shepherd
of this flock, and help us to follow.
Help him to teach and lead
more by example than by words.
Help him to be fair, equitable, and just,
showing equal love to everyone.

Let him be discerning, prudent, and flexible
while leading his flock—being either stern or tender,
as the circumstance may warrant.

Always remembering what he is called,
and aware that more is expected
of one to whom more has been entrusted,
may he direct souls as appropriate.
May he accommodate and adapt himself
to each one’s character and intelligence,
so that he will not only keep the flock
from dwindling, but may also rejoice in its increase.

May he always seek first the Kingdom of God,
not showing too great a concern
for the fleeting and temporal things of this world,
while keeping in mind that he has undertaken
the care of souls for whom he must give an account.
Let him also be mindful of his own faults.

Help us to use sound judgment
in selecting a new abbot,
considering above all goodness of life
and wisdom in teaching.

May our new abbot keep in mind
the nature of the burden
he will have received,
and to whom he will have to give
an account of his stewardship.
Let him always seek what is best
for his monks, and not for himself.

May we choose an abbot who:

-- Is learned in divine law, and who is chaste, temperate, and merciful.

-- Hates faults but loves the brothers.

-- Uses prudence and avoids extremes.

-- Distrusts his own frailty and remembers “not to crush the bruised reed.”

-- Strives to be loved rather than feared.

May we choose an abbot who is not:

-- Excitable, anxious, extreme, obstinate, jealous, or over suspicious.

But, rather, one who:

-- Displays foresight, consideration, discernment, moderation, and discretion.

-- Arranges everything so that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from.

-- Above all, keeps the Holy Rule in every particular after the pattern of Christ, our Good Shepherd.


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