Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

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Location: Rome, Italy

22 July 2006

Rules for community living, part 1

After living in a religious community for over 25 years, I have noticed certain behaviors that are so common that they become unspoken rules. I do not presume to speak for female religious communities; they may have a different set of rules. This is "part 1" because I suspect I will notice other rules as time goes on.

Rule 1: If you see a mess, ignore it. Don't say anything about it, even if you see the culprit in the act of making the mess. Example: If Brother Porcinus absentmindedly walks up two flights of stairs holding an open, upside-down bag of pretzels and a previously-full cup of coffee at a 45 degree angle, you should walk up the stairs in a way that implies you do not hear the odd crunchy/squishy noises underfoot. Reason: If you say anything about it, the other brothers will naturally ask why, if you saw the mess, you didn't clean it up? By not saying anything, you can plead ignorance.

Rule 2: If you do any task that was previously unassigned to anyone (such as cleaning up pretzels and coffee on the stairs), it automatically becomes your job for the rest of your life. Another reason to abide by Rule 1.

Rule 3: Section A (for discrete, indivisible foods, such as Oreos): Before removing said food item from its bag or box, ensure that there is more than one remaining piece. Never remove the last item of food from its container. Reason: Removing the last piece would require you to dispose of the container in the nearest receptacle, which clearly poses an unacceptable burden and is beneath your dignity.

Rule 3: Section B (for infinitely divisible foods, such as chips): No piece is too small to be considered the last piece. If necessary, use tweezers to break a single remaining crumb into two even smaller crumbs, then eat one of them. For the rest, follow Rule 3, Section A.

Rule 4: If there is the slightest chance that someone will need a particular item from the refrigerator in the near future, leave it out for him when you are finished with it. Example: After you have poured milk on your cereal, consider whether anyone else will want milk on their cereal in the next several days. If so, leave the milk out for them. Reason: Obviously, this is an act of charity. You don't wish others to strain a muscle reaching into the refrigerator for no good reason.

18 Comments:

Blogger kim said...

OMG !! and i mean that in the most respectful of ways :)
this totally explains it my children are all MONKS!

23 July, 2006 05:51  
Anonymous heather said...

ha ha - I think Kim, maybe all monks are still children.

23 July, 2006 07:16  
Anonymous Katja said...

Astounding - male live-in partners also follow these rules slavishly.

23 July, 2006 19:40  
Anonymous Moobs said...

These are the rules I live by. Always ensure also you move in with someone whose "I must tidy" threshold is lower than your own.

24 July, 2006 10:19  
Anonymous pog said...

Surely that merely requires you to be a male paired with a female, moobs?

24 July, 2006 12:12  
Anonymous Zoe said...

At university, these were the rules for living with flatmates. Except eating the last bit meant buying a new one, obviously unthinkable to a student. Now that I know the rules come from on high, as it were, I feel vindicated. My flatmates, who did such things more often, are not vindicated.

24 July, 2006 13:55  
Blogger Br. Lawrence said...

I must admit to being a little disappointed that these rules are universally known. I guess I'll have to be satisfied with being the one who codified them.
I'm thinking of starting a new order in which these will be the actual Rules. In order to be disobedient, which is the ultimate goal of all monks, they will have to be obsessively tidy. Genius, no?

24 July, 2006 16:29  
Anonymous Moobs said...

Pog - you have my very drift.
Brolo - A more liberal attitude to the sexuality of the religious orders would probably solve that one for you.

24 July, 2006 23:49  
Blogger Br. Lawrence said...

But Moobs, we already allow women to cook, clean and do our laundry! How can get more liberal than that?!

25 July, 2006 16:15  
Blogger kat said...

see, the problem with these rules is when they are followed by someone living alone. granted there is less of a mess, but the whole "blame it on the community" vibe just ends up as "sloppy."

you know, you could always say that the last bit is left for elijah. might work.

30 July, 2006 06:22  
Blogger Les said...

I'm really not surprised, being that it is all men that live there. And it's really not much different than being married, you can ignore what you don't want to deal with.

30 July, 2006 15:21  
Anonymous Moobs said...

Brolo - I think you are confusing gender with sexuality.

30 July, 2006 18:57  
Blogger Br. Lawrence said...

Ah, Moobs, I see what you mean. Or do I?

30 July, 2006 22:20  
Anonymous Moobs said...

Er .. possibly.

By the way voting for the Space Cadet 2006 Awad has now started - good luck my cowled friend

Vote here

31 July, 2006 00:11  
Anonymous Moobs said...

Er .. possibly.

By the way voting for the Space Cadet 2006 Awad has now started - good luck my cowled friend

Vote here

31 July, 2006 00:12  
Blogger Elle*Bee said...

So far your religious community's rules seem no different than those in my house. I live with a husband and three sons. Enjoyed the post, though.

31 July, 2006 20:02  
Blogger Attila The Mom said...

Men! You're all the same! ;-)

02 August, 2006 13:13  
Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

Your community living rules sound a lot like marriage. I now suspect that my husband was a monk in his earlier days, although I can't imagine why he never mentioned it to me.

Chalice chippers? REALLY?!! Or is that "chippies?"

07 August, 2006 01:36  

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