Yahoo had a glitch last night, one which resulted in some message from some
lists being sent over and over again and others not going through at all. They
hope it is corrected now, so I am resending today's Holy Rule, which did not
get through to any of the Yahoo groups last night... JL
Prayers, please, for Sr. Mary Hilary, OSB, 90, who has suffered a major
stroke. She is a nun of Fernham Priory, which closed, and now resident at Oulton
Abbey in England. She is also a cousin of our Brother Isidore at Petersham and
they have corresponded regularly. Prayers for both our Brothers, Isidore and
Vincent, and their families. Thanks so very much.
Prayers, please, for Chris, who had surgery for diabetic abscesses on his
back and shoulders. Deo gratias and prayers of thanks for Leigh, who was
seriously injured in an automobile accident last January. She will be back to work
next semester, and is doing some work at home for the university as she
continues her recovery. She has even returned to the gym. Continued prayers for
her wonderful recovery. Prayers for one making a very important faith
decision, prayers, too, for a troubled marriage. Lord, help us all 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
++++ Ah, the problems of doing re-runs: this is the third time I have copied
and sent reflections for 3/28 and 3/29 in reverse order. Sigh.... Mea culpa!
Here is the 28th to catch up. JL
March 28, July 28, November 27
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
Idleness is the enemy of the soul.
Therefore the sisters should be occupied
at certain times in manual labor,
and again at fixed hours in sacred reading.
To that end
we think that the times for each may be prescribed as follows.
From Easter until the Calends of October,
when they come out from Prime in the morning
let them labor at whatever is necessary
until about the fourth hour,
and from the fourth hour until about the sixth
let them apply themselves to reading.
After the sixth hour,
having left the table,
let them rest on their beds in perfect silence;
or if anyone may perhaps want to read,
let her read to herself
in such a way as not to disturb anyone else.
Let None be said rather early,
at the middle of the eighth hour,
and let them again do what work has to be done until Vespers.
And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monastics
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted.
With one of our several mottos, Ora et Labora, Pray and Work,
Benedictines have developed a marvelous theology of work. Our
centuries of reflection on the relationship of prayer and work, and
on the dignity of work itself have been shared with the Church at
large and have gone a long way to flesh out the Christian theology of
There's a beautiful glimpse of St. Benedict's tenderness here,
wrapped in one of his frequent exhortations to moderation. Here we
have a very important "WHY" of moderation: it is done "for the sake
of the faint-hearted." Got that? The median road of monastic
observance is not gauged by the strong, but by the weak among us.
Herculean ascetics that might quench the smoldering ember or break
the bruised reed are not for us. In a very real way, God Himself
decides the observance of a given house by sending those whom He does
to join it.
Neither my community nor your family or workplace is an accidental
fluke. (Tempting to think so at times, but they aren't!) God sent
those other people who drive you nuts there and He then placed you in
the midst of them. Odd sense of humor He has! But He knows what He is
Some monasteries are the only place in the world a particular member
of that house could ever be a monastic. Don't scorn that, reverence
it! What a great and tender mercy of God is there! We are a huge
Order with rooms and slots for everybody on a very, very wide
spectrum. Some work more, some pray more, but all must try to balance.
We work AND pray: Ora et Labora. Carry either too far and the results
will not be pretty. Too much work can wear a community out, make them
all but useless for prayer. If this continues for too long a time, it
can kill monastic life entirely. On the other hand, pray too much and
work too little and you will wind up with a lot of spoiled, pampered
lap dogs and lounge lizards of prayer, weak and soft and not much
good for anything- INCLUDING prayer! See how important balance is?
Oblates here are at a disadvantage. They don't usually have a
superior living right with them to tell them when they have gone
around the bend, off the top and over the falls. That's why those
objective people who ARE placed around the Oblate, like spouses,
parents, friends, employers or co-workers, are voices we should
listen to carefully.
Note I said "objective." The advice of others is not always and
everywhere good, but sometimes they can very clearly
see things to which we are completely blind. That's too important a
gift to be written off or ignored. Besides, listening is a very
Benedictine act and so is respect for and attention to authority, as
well as fraternal obedience.
The world of the Oblate is full, would we only look, with checks and
balances to keep us moderate and on course. As Francis Thompson
observed of the secular world at large:
"The angels keep their ancient places,
Turn but a stone and start a wing!
'Tis we, 'tis our estranged faces
That miss the many-splendored thing!"
Love and prayers,
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