Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical welfare and happy death of Bob's Mom, apparently nearing the end of her suffering, and for Bob and his wife, Kathy, and for all their family and all who take care of his Mom, and for all who will mourn her. Bob and Kathy are both Oblate novices here.
Prayers, please, for safe travel for Elaine as she goes to visit her Dad.
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
April 12, August 12, December 12
Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters
When she is to be received she promises before all in the oratory
stability, fidelity to monastic life and obedience. This promise
she shall make before God and His Saints,
so that if she should ever act otherwise, she may know that she
will be condemned by Him whom she mocks. Of this promise of hers
let her draw up a document in the name of the Saints whose relics
are there and of the Abbess who is present. Let her write this
document with her own hand; or if she is illiterate, let another
write it at her request,
and let the novice put her mark to it. Then let her place it with
her own hand upon the altar;
and when she has placed it there, let the novice at once intone
this verse: "Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I
shall live: and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Ps. 118
:116). Let the whole community answer this verse three times
and add the "Glory be to the Father." Then let the novice prostrate
herself at each one's feet,
that they may pray for her. And from that day forward let her be
counted as one of the community.
If she has any property, let her either give it beforehand to the
poor or by solemn donation bestow it on the monastery, reserving
nothing at all for herself, as indeed she knows that from that day
forward she will no longer have power even over her own body. At
once, therefore, in the oratory, let her be divested of her own
clothes which she is wearing
and dressed in the clothes of the monastery. But let the clothes of
which she was divested
be put aside in the wardrobe and kept there. Then if she should
ever listen to the persuasions of the devil and decide to leave the
monastery (which God forbid), she may be divested of the monastic
clothes and cast out. Her document, however, which the Abbess has
taken from the altar, shall not be returned to her, but shall be
kept in the monastery.
The Church approves religious rules. This is the basis for
asserting that our Holy Rule is inspired by the Holy Spirit,
because the Church gave its seal of approval. The Church, however,
is indubitably older and often wiser than monastic life. It predates every
form of optional religious commitment. It is the blessing of the Church
which makes official monastic life possible for any and all of us.
This is just a prelude to saying that the wisdom of the Church long
ago stopped people from making solemn vows, a life-long commitment
difficult to break, right out of novitiate. Not only does this
longer program protect people, to a certain extent, from making a
mistake, it also spares the monastery from having a lot of
undesirables with chapter votes running the show. There are
some I have known who left in simple vows for whose exit I remain
eternally grateful! Thanks be to God that they were never chapter
members with votes. What a zoo that would have been!
A year may well have been enough in St. Benedict's time. People had
vastly shorter life spans, it was a bigger chunk of their lives.
They also had to grow up more quickly and their options were fewer
by far than those of our own day.
Oblates, therefore, can garner a few kernels of truth in this
chapter about commitment, that bugbear of the baby boomer
generation and beyond. Modern people find it terribly hard to
commit, some never manage it at all. As such, a bit of wisdom older
than our own age may be very useful in our everyday lives.
Whether it's a marriage or engagement or a job or a volunteer
chairperson position, don't jump at things. Read the Rule, so to
speak, three times at least! Look, look, look as mindfully as you
can at the truth and reality of the situation.
Benedictines are not people afraid of commitment, but we live in a
world where many are. Our witness here must be care and balance. We
must resolutely walk BETWEEN the extremes of foolhardy haste and
crippling fear. In the world of today, that is no small witness and
no easy task. Pull this one off, and you have a done a service to
many, not just to yourself!
Love and prayers,
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