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4474Holy Rule for Feb. 7

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    Feb 6
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      Prayers for Beth, on her birthday, and for all on her prayer list, that they may receive extra graces as she prays for them.
       
      Prayers for the eternal rest of Ranald, who died of cancer, and for Kay, his wife and all his family and all who mourn him.
       
      Continued prayers for Salvador, still fighting for his job or a settlement, having to reveal very personal health issues to contradict
      ugly allegations about his morals and virtue.
      C., soon celebrating 28 years of sobriety in AA.

      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

      February 7, June 8, October 8
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The tenth degree of humility
      is that he be not ready and quick to laugh,
      for it is written,
      "The fool lifts up his voice in laughter" (Eccles. 21:23).

      REFLECTION

      Face it, beloveds, speech and laughter have a lot in common! Both are
      often fake, insincere, nervous or empty. Both are often employed for
      no reason other than to break a silence which makes us uncomfortable.
      Both are frequently unnecessary. To the degree that both are
      sometimes false, they are destructive of truth and, therefore, of humility.

      I speak from experience as one of the big-time braying mules, all
      too ready to lift my fool's voice in laughter! People like me are
      quick to defend themselves by making the other side look dumb or
      challenged: "Oh, I can't stand someone with no sense of humor!" Well,
      the issue here is NOT having a sense of humor, all of us need that.
      It is having a hair trigger on same or, worse. It's having a
      catastrophic first strike capability to laugh when no one else does,
      to see humor where it truly does not exist, or to be silly in the
      presence of those far wiser than oneself.

      Every good monk I have ever known has laughed. The best monks,
      however, did not laugh easily. A knowing, warm smile with bright eyes
      or a discreet chuckle would have been most usual for them. They were
      not quick to laugh, nor did they roar loudly with laughter.

      There's another connection between speech and laughter here. Their
      moderate, virtuous use is connected to wisdom, which is why the person
      who rarely speaks at all is usually listened to when they do say
      something. Ditto the use of laughter. If Br. X, who laughs at
      everything, including things that aren't funny, howls in laughter,
      people don't ascribe much to the affair. On the other hand, if Br. Z,
      who is NOT given to laughter, even chuckles it is a sign that
      something is REALLY funny!

      Stupid laughter and stupid speech are both pathetic as a first
      resort. Both can stem from thinking we know something that we really
      do not, or that we can see clearly and entirely what we really see
      only partially, if that. Our ignorance in such matters may be missed
      by others, but those we live with can usually point it out, unless
      they are too polite or charitable to do so!

      Having said that about ignorance, let me jump in to defend valid
      laughter and truthful senses of humor. Merely being curmudgeonly and
      not laughing is definitely NOT the idea! That treats the symptom, not
      the cause! Joyless, cranky, unduly serious people who take
      themselves, above all, FAR too seriously, are every bit as much out
      of touch with reality as the braying mules.

      Both laughter and speech can be cruel and ought never to be so for the
      Christian. But both can be loving and charitable, too. Surely there is no
      condemnation
      implied here of charity! What of the many times when a laugh or chuckle truly
      did break the ice, lighten the moment or cheer someone up. One would be hard
      pressed to claim that those charitably kind uses of laughter were forbidden.

      Humility is truth, remember that one? As Sheen observed, both the sense of
      faith and the sense of humor are the terribly important ability to see through
      things!

      The good monks I described who rarely laughed were not morose. They were not
      so because they were holy enough to know better! They were cheerful, joyful men.
      That stands in high (and pleasant!) relief to being either a crank or a
      buffoon.

      That's the issue here: being holy makes us humble, being holy makes
      us avoid extremes!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA
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