Prayers, please for Katrina and Michael, and for all military caught
up in this war, for peace and the safety of all. Also, Deo gratias
and thanksgiving: M.'s ultrasound was all clear and Lesli delivered a
healthy baby. God's will be done. NRN Thanks, JL
March 23, July 23, November 22
Chapter 43: On Those Who Come Late to the Work of God or to Table
Anyone who does not come to table before the verse,
so that all together may say the verse and the oration
and all sit down to table at the same time --
through his own carelessness or bad habit
does not come on time
shall be corrected for this up to the second time.
If then he does not amend,
he shall not be allowd to share in the common table,
but shall be separated from the company of all
and made to eat alone,
and his portion of wine shall be taken away from him,
until he has made satisfaction and has amended.
And let him suffer a like penalty who is not present
at the verse said after the meal.
And let no one presume
to take any food or drink
before or after the appointed time.
But if anyone is offered something by the superior
and refuses to take it,
then when the time comes
that he desires what he formerly refused
or something else,
let him receive nothing whatever
until he has made proper satisfaction.
Communal monasticism, even long before St. Benedict, established a
close similarity between Church and refectory. One fed the soul, one
fed the body, and, with reading, the soul and mind as well! Not
surprisingly, a ritual grew up around the communal meal with its
longer, formal, chanted grace, the silence and reading, that would
make one think very much of Church, indeed!
Oblates have to be very careful that they do not "impose" their
monasticism on their families. On the other hand, all things being
equal, it is certainly within reason to expect our families to be at
least theistic, even Christian, if in fact they are! (If we do not
have the blessing of a family or spouse of similar or like faith,
then scrupulous respect for that difference must obtain.) Having said
that, a formal grace, no matter how short, is hardly a draconian
imposition on a family of believers, no matter how nominal that
belief may be.
Silence, of course, is hardly a family option, but peace surely is!
Cease-fire, folks! Truce! Once grace is said, every effort to avoid
dissension and fighting should be made! They really aren't very good
for digestion, let alone spiritual growth. Think how many times one
hears someone say: "Oh, yeah, we HAD to say grace as kids, but then
all hell broke loose." Don't let them happen. It innoculates most of
the grace that prayer could bring. No prayer is a magic wand that
forgives whatever follows!
I have lived alone as an Oblate in the world. I know at least some of
the loneliness and longing that goes with that. I urge single Oblates
(and confess that I was not always clever in this respect myself!) to
surround their dining in the evening with some kind of formality.
Single people often fail to take very good care of themselves. Make
your evening meal a time when you do that. Say or chant a careful
grace. Light a candle, perhaps. Play a tape of something nourishing
to the soul, whether words or music. It doesn't matter if you're
eating tuna out of a can or a frozen dinner. Enhance that time with
things good for you and good for your monastic struggle. For all the
disadvantages of single life in the world, there are also some
advantages! Make sure you gift yourself with the graces your
situation does offer. Turn off the news and the phone ringer. Take
the little bit of heaven that is there for you!
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA