St. Benedict's Ladder of Humility: Step 8

The 8th Step of St. Benedict’s Ladder of Humility is that a monk does only what is endorsed by the common rule of the monastery and the example set by the superiors.

You join a group, whether it’s a job or a church softball team, no matter, you just joined some existing organization with legitimate authority over its members and as such has placed generally accepted rules for doing things over its members. In joining such a group, you have tacitly agreed to abide by the rules of the organization. The organization therefore has a right to expect you to live by the rules, otherwise, why’d you sign up?

If you do not like the rules, the honorable thing to do would be to leave. If you cannot abide by the rules, for whatever reason, to stay in the organization would be dishonest and disruptive. Even if you hid your displeasure, you would be dishonest with yourself and disruptive of your interior life. Sobriety might be threatened as you struggled to reconcile your beliefs, or ways of doing things, with the group you are a member of. If the group has a way of considering discontent and sees there is room for change, then this is fine as change within the system is the sign of a dynamic and vibrant group. If you could not hide your displeasure, and there were no mechanisms for enabling change within the system, then to stay would be dishonest to the group and disruptive to the members.

In a way, it goes back to the false humility vs true humility comparison mentioned in Sixth Step . With a sense of true humility, and after the humble examination of your beliefs, attitudes and motivations with the notion that you might possibly be wrong, you would leave the group rather than stay and be disruptive. With a sense of false humility, you might refuse to consider that your position is wrong, and adopt a kind of “martyr” attitude and stay. As I said in the 6th Step: True humility deflects attention from ourselves, or at least we are uncomfortable with the attention; false humility attracts attention and enjoys the attention our work brings us. There is the possibility that the falsely humble will leave and build a new group around themselves. A martyr complex changed to that of a rebel and exile. Romantic notions, but ego-driven.

How is this relevant to our sobriety? Ego-driven actions are dangerous to us. Drinking fueled them back then, and to return to them after sobriety may be dangerous unless we have a well balanced life and also a very well developed spiritual life.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"