Prayers for all our Philips and Jameses on their feastday, particular prayers for one James nearing death and badly in need of conversion and a happy death.
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
January 2, May 3, September 2
Let us arise, then, at last,
for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
"Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 18:11).
Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
let us hear with attentive ears
the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
"Today if you hear His voice,
harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94:8).
"Whoever has ears to hear,
hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).
And what does He say?
"Come, My children, listen to Me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps. 33:12).
"Run while you have the light of life,
lest the darkness of death overtake you" (John 12:35).
Check out the similarities of this section, at the beginning of the
Holy Rule, and the readings of early Lent, which stress that "now is
the acceptable time." It brings to mind St. Benedict's later chapter
which says that the monastic life ought always to have some semblance
That perpetual Lent chapter is the source of a lot of grumbling about
austerity from one camp and cheering about it from another. Both may
have missed a salient point. Perhaps the greatest element of
perpetual Lent has less to do with austerity- even the monastic fast
did not last all year. What are perpetually in style are repentance,
Monastic life withers in either smugness or a rut. What St. Benedict
wants us to do is always to try and stay at that serious moment of
taking inventory that many of us feel at Lent's beginning. We need to
always be checking what needs to be cleaned up and we need to be
prepared, even a bit eager, to start working on it. This is why a
daily examination of conscience is so necessary. Compline, the
traditional liturgical place for such examens, is a very apt place
for same. As we prepare for sleep, which prefigures death, we prepare
also for death, by examining our faults and asking forgiveness.
The Holy Rule, like Lent, is by no means the gateway to an easier
life, but to a holier one. As we actually grow in holiness much of it
will become easier, more natural to us. But until that time, it is a
struggle and, in unconquered areas, it remains something of a
struggle for all of our lives. What's hard about that struggle isn't
fasting or penance, but changing ourselves. Austere practices are
just a means to that end, not ends in themselves.
The whole idea of Lent and the Holy Rule is lasting change for the
better. Lent is a seasonal construct to get us to begin anew, the
Holy Rule says that beginning anew must be a daily thing. Lent is an
attempt to get us to do for forty days what we ought to have been
doing all year. The Holy Rule is a way to do what we ought to do all
year, every day.
Love and prayers,
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