Holy Rule for July 26
Prayers for all our Anns and Joachims on this feast of Sts. Ann and
Joachim. Deo Gratias! Bob, for whom we prayed, will not have to have
his knee re-broken to fix his leg. Deo Gratias! Ann writes that
Mother Rachel has had contact from her brother in southern Lebanon ..
they are unharmed as yet ( please God it will stay that way). Mother
asks all of us to please keep up our prayers for them and for all who
are being hurt in any way in this conflict. Please pray for all
those whose prayer requests are not able to be posted for whatever
reason. God is outside of time and our prayers are never, ever late.
Lord, help us as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL Please pray
for all those who have ended or will,this day end their earthly lives by
their own hands. May Almighty God in His infinite mercy grant them
eternal rest. Amen. Please pray for our good Brother Jerome and a
solution to his computer problems. In the interim please bless me by
sending prayer requests to: mlopiccolo@...
March 26, July 26, November 25
Chapter 46: On Those Who Fail in Any Other Matters
When anyone is engaged in any sort of work, whether in the kitchen, in
the cellar, in a shop, in the bakery, in the garden, while working at
some craft, or in any other place, and she commits some fault, or breaks
something, or loses something, or transgresses in any other way
whatsoever, if she does not come immediately
before the Abbess and the community of her own accord
to make satisfaction and confess her fault, then when it becomes known
through another, let her be subjected to a more severe correction.
But if the sin-sickness of the soul is a hidden one, let her reveal it
only to the Abbess or to a spiritual mother, who knows how to cure her
own and others' wounds without exposing them and making them public.
The Chapter of Faults, wherein monastics confessed public, external
faults, had become rather silly the way it was practiced before Vatican
II. I remember, years ago, seeing a glossary list of Latin phrases used
to describe different faults. As practiced, I'm not sure it was the most
useful thing in the world at all.
However, look at the kernel here, important for both monasteries and
families: communication. What St. Benedict wrote about was not the
formalized and largely empty ritual that the late 20th century had come
to know, it was an airing session of sorts. These can be very useful.
People in any life are often reluctant to open up about what bothers
them, monastics are often even more so! To provide a structured way and
time to do so might have given some just the extra distance and
protection they needed.
Slights and wrongs and hurts that lie hidden and unexpressed can
fester into a spreading, malignant growth. Note that the Holy Rule
bids us never let the sun set on our anger. We have to get the things
that REALLY bother us out. This hardly means a free for all, that would
be very contrary to the whole spirit of the Rule, but it does mean that
genuine differences must be solved in an open and
respectful and humble way.
The way for today's community or family may not be to do this all
together- but then again that might not be all bad, occasionally. At
any rate and however we do it, St. Benedict asks us to own up to our
failures and those of others because he knows it is terribly damaging
not to do so. A important item here is that the all the members must
feel safe to express themselves. How many kids who were afraid to open
their mouths to a parent about really serious troubles in their
relationship are still in therapy years later?
Whether alone or in a group, when we confess our fault to others, we
lighten our load. When we honestly and gently tell others that they have
hurt us or wronged us, we are often surprised to find that they were
unaware of having done so- no wonder they "kept right on doing it!" We
can also be wonderfully surprised at the depth of feeling with which
apologies may be made. Very often the gentle and loving exposure of a
problem between people gives us remarkable opportunities to show our
nobler side and to see that side of our brothers and sisters.
The goal of this is peace, so it must never be done for any other
motive, for anything less than loving. There is the danger that we
lose track of the important "difference between the virtue of honesty
and the vice of brutal frankness" as my friend, Fr. Roger used to say.
This must never become an accepted arena for getting back at one
another. The whole purpose here is to end strife, not perpetuate it.
Love and prayers,
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