I was reading the Rule today and came across what Benedict says about cultivating fairness in our lives. The Rule is loaded with instructions about how to treat others with fairness and consideration. He was concerned that the monastics, and by extension, us felines and everyone, be treated fairly. Benedict’s instructions on fairness also extends to caring for others with thoughtful consideration. What I found today is in Chapter 2 – Qualities of the Superior. So I decided to reflect on if Benedict says about fairness and consideration is happening here in the Cloister.
Randy’s Observations on Fairness
First observation: Jane brushes Mickey more than she brushes me. Now, I’m a nice cat, a VERY nice cat. And I’m patient too…somewhat. Benedict is
clear on fairness, saying point blank, in Chapter 2 – Qualities of the Abbot or Prioress,
“The abbot or prioress should avoid all favoritism in the monastery.” RB 2.16
What I see here in the Cloister is a clear example of favoritism. Amma is missing the mark on this one. Benedict continues by saying that the abbot or prioress is not to love one more than another unless they find someone “better in good actions and obedience.” (RB 2.17) Since I’m ALWAYS the first one to call out for our meals and to run right to my food dish, I consider myself to be very good indeed in actions and obedience. Therefore, if any cat of the eight of us should be favored, I should be the one to receive that favoritism. I hope Jane takes this to heart.
The Needs of Others Take First Place
Second observation: Normally we have our breakfast between six and six-thirty in the morning, sometimes earlier. Last Saturday Amma Jane and the
other staff member, Prior John, slept late and didn’t feed us until 8:00 am! How inconsiderate! Me and the other cats were milling around, distressed and half-starved. When Jane finally appeared I was quick to mew out this verse:
“No one is to pursue what they judge better for themselves, but instead, what they judge better for someone else.” RB 72.7
Clearly, Jane was not following what was best for me or the other cats – feeding us on time! Instead, she was favoring herself!
Randy’s Suggestions on Cultivating Fairness
Please take a look at your own life. Do you have favorite animals or people and neglect others? Do you ever consider doing what is best for someone else instead of what’s best for you? Think about it…