Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 37

I apologize for not posting over the weekend. I had a birthday in the family, and then a migraine the following day. Anyway, moving on.


Chapter 37. THE ELDERLY AND CHILDREN

  1. Although human nature itself is inclined to be compassionate toward the old and the young, the authority of the rule should also provide for them. 
  2. Since their lack of strength must always be taken into account, they should certainly not be required to follow the strictness of the rule with regard to food, 
  3. but should be treated with kindly consideration and allowed to eat before the regular hours.
We see that even consideration is given to the elderly and the children when it comes to food. It is customary for Orthodox Christians to fast from all foods from Saturday night (after Vespers) until taking communion, but usually children are excluded from this fast (at least that is what I've always been told) because you can not really expect a child to abstain from food for that long of a period without having a complete meltdown; the Liturgy today is about and hour and a half to two hours in length, and many parishes here in the US don't have Liturgy until 10AM, so you're looking at noon before being able to eat - a child can not handle that.

Of course, there is economia given to those who can not hold to the fast for medical reasons such as hypoglycemia, or nursing mothers.

Naturally, this applies to the monastic life as well where the brethren oft times eat little and don't eat much more than bread and fruit. A child, or even an older brother who is frail, needs to have more food so they can stay healthy. This seems kind of like a no-brainer issue, but I suspect that this chapter was put in for those types who follow the letter of the law no matter what, because sometimes those kinds of people need it written down that they need to step back and examine an issue.
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