The service of the abbot

A Benedictine monastery is managed by an abbot. According to the understanding of the Rule, he is called “Father” in keeping with Christ (RB 63, 13). The abbot serves the unity and unanimity of the monastic community.

Benedict places great demands on the abbot’s service. As criteria for a worthy candidate for the office of abbot, he names the following among others:

  • Probation in life (Regula Benedicti = Rule of Saint Benedict 64, 2)::
    The abbot shall be measured against his actions, “even if he were last in the ranking of the monastic community”.
  • Mercy (RB 64):
    The abbot “knows he should help more than rule” and “seeks to be loved more than feared”.
  • Wisdom of teachings (RB 2):
    “Thus the abbot may only teach or determine and command according to the Lord’s directives.”

Ability to wisely differentiate

The ability to wisely differentiate, discretio, the “mother of virtues”, is a decisive criterion. On the one hand, the abbot has to take the individuality of the monks with their needs into account (RB 64,19) and hear their suggestions. On the other hand, he has to ensure that the monks also use their abilities for the good of the monastic community.

Andechs Monastery Emblem