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Jan 22

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  • russophile2002 <jeromeleo@earthlink.net>
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the repose of the souls of Lillian Rumsey and Sister Eucharia. We prayed for the latter last week and she has gone home to God, also
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 22, 2003
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      Prayers, please, for the repose of the souls of Lillian Rumsey and
      Sister Eucharia. We prayed for the latter last week and she has gone
      home to God, also for the health of Linda, undergoing stem cell
      transplants for leukemia and for the health of Dolores McNeil. While
      you're at it, say one for me: it's the 44th anniversary of my
      Confirmation. NRN JL

      January 22, May 23, September 22
      Chapter 5: On Obedience

      The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.
      This is the virtue of those
      who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ;
      who, because of the holy service they have professed,
      and the fear of hell,
      and the glory of life everlasting,
      as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior,
      receive it as a divine command
      and cannot suffer any delay in executing it.
      Of these the Lord says,
      "As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me" (Ps. 17:45).
      And again to teachers He says,
      "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).

      Such as these, therefore,
      immediately leaving their own affairs
      and forsaking their own will,
      dropping the work they were engaged on
      and leaving it unfinished,
      with the ready step of obedience
      follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands.
      And so as it were at the same moment
      the master's command is given
      and the disciple's work is completed,
      the two things being speedily accomplished together
      in the swiftness of the fear of God
      by those who are moved
      with the desire of attaining life everlasting.
      That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way,
      of which the Lord says,
      "Narrow is the way that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14),
      so that,
      not living according to their own choice
      nor obeying their own desires and pleasures
      but walking by another's judgment and command,
      they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them.
      Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord
      in which He says,
      "I have come not to do My own will,
      but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).


      Several of us were talking with a Brother with a charge who was
      expressing his frustration that people did not do what he asked. He
      had tried to be polite, but his requests were ignored or excuses were
      given at every turn. He was clueless as to why this was happening and
      honestly upset. Finally, another monk interrupted him with one of the
      nicest remarks I have ever heard made to a monastic. He said: "Wait a
      minute, Brother, you don't understand. You're not like other people,
      you do what you are told without further argument. For most people
      being told to do something is merely a point to begin negotiations."

      Sad, but true! Bluntly put, obedience doesn't really work until it
      messes with your life, until it disturbs you and stirs up your
      complacent, settled smugness. It's rather like a light switch. The
      bulb doesn't go on until someone throws the switch. The potential is
      always there, but no switch, no light. Potential light alone is not
      terribly enlightening.

      The same could be said of poverty or any other monastic discipline.
      Poverty as a potential has few teeth, but wait until you win the
      lottery. Stability is no problem until your parents die and the
      family home could be yours or a dream job opens up a thousand miles
      away. Chastity is a lot easier until you fall in love. (And trust me,
      you will quite likely fall in love, at least once and maybe more
      times than that!)

      On Monastic Life list, we have been talking about the difference
      between apathy and detachment. This chapter offers a prime example:
      one leaves one's own affairs, drops whatever one was in the midst of
      and forsakes one's own will. That's detachment. Apathy, on the other
      hand, truly doesn't care one way or the other. There is no ascesis in
      apathy, because all is equally indifferent. It is the lack of
      indifference, it is, paradoxically, the level of personal attachment
      that makes detachment work. Detachment is active, apathy is passive.
      Apathy is the uncaring state, detachment is the active struggle
      against undue caring and a LOT of caring in our lives is undue!

      Satan hates monastic life, so different aspects will chafe different
      people, that's her only hope of success. Obedience may not bother one
      who goes off the deep end over chastity. Poverty may be a simple
      cinch for one who can scarcely endure stability. Having said this, if
      obedience is your thorn, any words I use to praise it will merely
      annoy. I know, because praise for the "gift" of celibacy drive me
      wild! But obedience- and celibacy- are deserving of praise. They work
      and when we allow them to work, they lead to immense freedom.

      Obedience was the victim of a lot of word play in the 60's and 70's.
      One must hope it was all sincere, but it was often misguided.
      Beloveds, if you call it "coordination" or "dialogue" or "consensus"
      you run a terrible risk of referring to a light switch more or less
      perpetually in the off position. Always be wary of euphemism, it can
      be a harbinger that something is askew. Euphemisms often stem from a
      chip on the shoulder and a chip on the shoulder usually means wood
      higher up- in the cranial regions! When any of those euphemisms
      actually work, actually intervene in one's life dramatically, they do
      so as obedience, plain and simple. One might as well just call the
      rose a rose!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA
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