31/October/2008 Filed in: Jottings
Today's chapter of RB is concerned with excommunication for less serious faults. To eat alone, to be deprived, quite literally, of companionship ("sharing bread with") is, in monastic terms, a reminder that one has in some way offended against the common good. This morning we learned that half of all women aged over 65 in the UK live alone, which must mean that for a high proportion, eating alone is a common, everyday occurrence. We are not talking here of an occasional solitary meal or freely choosing to eat alone at certain times (who would not opt for solitude at breakfast), but of a habitual state of affairs. Anyone who has ever lived alone knows that to cook for one can be an effort; and the idea of setting a proper table is simply too much trouble. Perhaps there is something here for all Benedictines and oblates to ponder, especially when we celebrate the Eucharist. When did we last invite an elderly or solitary person to share a meal with us? When did we last make the connection, so to say, between what we share at Mass and what we share at the dining table?