Prayers, please, for Brother Bernard, also for Peter and his
siblings, fallen away from the faith, for Johanna, severe depression,
and from Christopher, 23, and his Mom, Suzanne. He is having some
real life-focus struggles right now.
Thanks so much!
May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
One of the reasons, surely not the only one, that Jesus told us not
to judge is that, by our very nature, we are usually in the MIDDLE of
things, and the middle is not a place from which one can make an
adequate assessment. The middle can be scary, but the beginning and
the end have more to say about what was REALLY going on. In God's
heart and mercy and mind, ALL things are seen together. We can in no
way have a scope that wide.
In the frightening middles of life, we dare only say: "Jesus, I trust
in You!" with all our hearts. Like any opera, it ain't over until the
fat lady sings, and for most of us, most of the time, the fat lady
AIN'T singing! Hang in there! God *IS* in charge! Don't let the
middles rob us of our inner peace. Trust , real, firm trust in God's
Mercy is the ONLY way to prevent that.
What all this is leading to is this: don't judge the Holy Rule by any
middle chapter you read at random. Some of them, especially the ones
dealing with punishments, can sound terribly mean and severe taken
out of context. It is here in the epilogue that the Prologue is so
resolutely repeated by a loving, gentle father, a lover of Christ, a
man who well knows how to lead others to joy and abundant life. This
is the true holy Father Benedict. May he and Christ lead us all alike
unto everlasting life!
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA