A quick explanation of the acronym, "NRN". It means no reply
necessary, just pray. We dreamed that one up on Monastic Life list to
leave people free to respond if they wanted, but also free of guilt
when they didn't. it cuts out a lot of one-line posts!
Prayers, please, for Martha, about to have hip replacement, and for
her 86 year old Aunt Helen, struggling to remain at home and
independent. Also, please pray for C., who needs a spiritual home and
Love and prayers,
January 19, May 20, September 19Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments
of Good Works
Not to give way to anger.
Not to nurse a grudge.
Not to entertain deceit in one's heart.
Not to give a false peace.
Not to forsake charity.
Not to swear, for fear of perjuring oneself.
To utter truth from heart and mouth.
Not to return evil for evil.
To do no wrong to anyone, and to bear patiently wrongs done to
To love one's enemies.
Not to curse those who curse us, but rather to bless them.
To bear persecution for justice' sake.
Not to be proud.
Not addicted to wine.
Not a great eater.
Not a grumbler.
Not a detractor.
To put one's hope in God.
To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in
But to recognize always that the evil is one's own doing, and to
impute it to oneself.
Anytime you feel that you are really doing OK with Benedictine life,
that you might even be entitled to relax a bit, go read the
Instruments of Good Works. It shouldn't take long to read all 72 one-
liners, but you really needn't worry. Few can get past 35 without
realizing that this is no time for a nap!!
There can be a whole panoply of reactions to reading this list.
Personally, I have often felt annoyance. "Now THERE'S a goody-two-
shoes type!" I'd mutter. "Squeaky clean! Too perfect! Annoying to
live with!!" Well, the last may be true; saints often are annoying to
However, what you should be thinking of here is not the perfect high
school honor student who always did EVERYTHING perfectly, who would
burst into tears if she received a B+, who, to all appearances, had
no life other than study. Face it, such people fill those of us who
made the upper half of the graduating class possible with a seething,
envious disgust. Of course they do! They have a LOT of it right, but
no balance. Looking back, to expect such balance at 18 is a bit of a
stretch for anyone.
No, these things take a lifetime of practice and hard work and when
they do come together, they do so with a balanced serenity that does
not chafe- except perhaps in guilt or envy! But even those should be
carefully checked. We are all very different people and we are all
very different at various points in life.
The young monastic with raging hormones can be very upset with an
older monk who is so controlled that one is tempted to snarl: "No-
lifer! Asexual party animal!" Hang on, kids, calm down. Your turn is
coming, but it can't arrive on the instant of your demand. Brother X
has spent more than 35 years acquiring those traits you are jealous
of and it looks easy for him NOW, because it has finally become
natural, as the Holy Rule promised. But it was not always so! Brother
X was 20 once, too!
Never stop trying, but be patient with yourself and especially
patient with those who are far ahead of you! The monks of Mount Athos
are always using the phrase: "Be patient" or "Patience." They even
say it to their donkeys when loading them: "Patience, Demetrios!" We
need to keep on trying, to never give up, but the timetable is God's
and His alone. This is a race we cannot win on our own speed.
"Patience, beloveds, patience!"
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA