Whenever any important business has to be done in the monastery, let the Abbot call together the whole community and state the matter to be acted upon. Then, having heard the brethren’s advice, let him turn the matter over in his own mind and do what he shall judge to be most expedient. The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.
Let the brethren give their advice with all the deference required by humility, and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions; but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot’s judgment, and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.
However, just as it is proper for the disciples to obey their master, so also it is his function to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
Though the commentary on the Rule I refer to the most says that this reading is not directly applicable to Obaltes, I think there is much to be taken from it for family life. My wife and I are both heads of the household, but we have entrusted to one another certain aspects of its functioning due to natural sympathies/abilities. That being said, we do not, however, make decisions without first consulting the other even though we may understand more about the matter at hand. Doesn’t it happen so often that we cannot see the forest for the trees? After hearing the other’s opinion a decision is then made, as the Rule says, according to what one has judged to be most expedient. Our children are still infants in the literal sense of the word, so obviously their opinions aren’t considered; but their well-being, especially their spiritual well-being, is always kept in mind when making decisions. As for the meaning of the “Lord often reveals to the younger what is best“, it is a phrase I have long pondered and have yet to find a satisfactory answer too.
For whatever reason, things have naturally developed in our relationship that the weightier, more life-impacting decisions are taken by me. I thank God everyday for my wife, who accepts my decisions humbly, even when they are contrary to her opinion (though more often than not we tend to see eye-to-eye on most things). There have been times when I might have doubted my own decisions, but she remained trusting, unshaken in her belief that I had chosen the best for us. When money was tight; when we were forced to move abroad, me moving alone first – through it all, she trusted.
This reading also brought to mind the Ephesian reading which has guided and shaped our marriage, and which still touches me deeply:
Being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ. Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church: Because we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.