May the brothers give one another precedence. May they bear with the greatest patience one another’s infirmities, whether of body or character. May they try to outdo each other in obedience. Let no one do what is best for himself, but rather what is best for another. May they reverence the elderly and love the young. May the brothers serve each other in charity.
St Benedict’s Rule
Living together requires waiting on others. It requires also a number of rules to observe and to organize.
Certain brothers form the Chapter. A number of decisions fall to them.
First of all the election of the Superior, the father of the Abbey. He is elected for 8 years and his mandate is always renewable. He must obtain two thirds of the votes. If he doesn’t obtain them, a new vote will take place up to a maximum of 7 times.
Election of half of the Superior’s council : it takes place each year, during a Chapter meeting.
Accepting new members also falls to the brothers. They express themselves with a vote in which a two thirds’ majority is required for temporary commitment, more than half for a final commitment.
Agreement about exceptional spending, decisions about founding a new monastery… all that must be decided by the brothers, and is precisely laid down.
The father of the Abbey does not hold absolute power; it is up to him to put issues before the brothers and in some cases to decide himself.
The father of the Abbey cannot do everything. He puts people in charge of the different activities. He appoints another person to be his substitute, who is called the prior. He sees to it that each brother has the work he needs and so, as St Benedict said : The House of God is to be well run.