Two monks walk down a corridor conversing

Fr. Placid shares on the danger of competition in monastic communities: “I am drawing on a Sermon by the medieval English abbot St. Aelred of Rievaulx. He states that monks and nuns need to hear from time to time about sharing the kindness of God. Aelred knows his brothers well. In a community that might have Normans and Anglo-Saxons living side by side, there are bound to be some tensions simmering. He is challenges his monks to be kind to each other and show some patience and mercy when conflicts arise. Avoiding competition with fellow community members helps a community to maintain harmonious relationships.

Aelred points out how conflict crops up as competition. For instance, there might possibly be a community somewhere in the world where monks and nuns do not ask why certain ones need more items while others do not. If there is such a community, I would like to know where it is! A competitive spirit is a no-no for Aelred. The competition may be about work, in Choir, or in On-going Formation, among others. As an example, Aelred finds monks who do not do assignments when asked to do so. Perhaps they delay the project by asking for tools that may not be available or by questioning the boss about the job. When someone cannot let others lead them, we must wonder about that. Aelred asks that we drop control, control of one’s surroundings, and the need to control others.


Your brothers of New Clairvaux