Holy Rule for August 2
Prayers, please, for Chelsea, a teen with an eating disorder having a tough time with surrender, for her parents and all who are trying to help. Prayers, too, for Rebecca, her husband and her premature newborn, 1 week old. Rebecca has had to return to the hospital with complications which may mean more surgery and they are far from their families. Lord, help them 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 2, August 2, December 2
Chapter 51: On Brethren Who Go Not Very Far Away
A Brother who is sent out on some business
and is expected to return to the monastery that same day
shall not presume to eat while he is out,
even if he is urgently requested to do so
by any person whomsoever,
unless he has permission from his Abbot.
And if he acts otherwise, let him be excommunicated.
Remember that cloistered paradise of the heart I have written about
before? All Benedictines, monks, nuns and oblates, must cultivate
that monastic heart. Today's chapter is an excellent example.
Like our Christianity itself, our Benedictinism must become part of
us, rooted in our hearts, carried with us everywhere because it is
inseparable from us. While the issue in this chapter is keeping the
monastic who goes outside vigilant, mindful and observant, there is a
particular application to oblates here. This concept of carrying the
monastery with us becomes a principal means of evangelization, of
being leaven in the dough of the world, of being a catalyst for peace.
Remember that the Holy Rule teaches us that the observance of some
things becomes easier with time. Happy the day when one wakes to find
that even the smallest part of one's Benedictine struggle has become
one's very self, an integral part of who one is. This realization
will likely sneak up on one and catch us quite unawares, surprised by
joy, as it were, to steal C. S. Lewis' phrase.
With God's mercy and grace, those areas will increase over time. More
and more we actually become the monastic we have been striving to be.
That, beloveds, is an awesome feeling of joy, to say nothing of considerable
relief!! Truly, m'dears, we shall one day, with God's help, "run in the way of
His commandments with hearts enlarged."
What St. Benedict is doing is pointing out that monasticism is not
merely a job, a burden one doffs and dons. Monastic life is a
becoming, not a set of standards one only follows when one is closely
watched. The goal of monastic discipline is to make the disciple a
monastic more or less by nature.
In this respect, it closely resembles any training: nursing school is
designed to make people nurses, law school to make attorneys,
and so forth. The difference is that monasticism is not a set number of
hours per week, it's all the week, all the life. Just as any nurse in a
disaster instantly can shift into nursing mode, whether on duty or not,
the spiritually trained monastic is operative everywhere, not just in the
This is a fine and consoling point for Oblates who must live abroad.
Lovely though our monasteries may be, they are not what makes us
monastics. That is something deep within, a cloister of our hearts
that we must learn to carry with us everywhere. Lots of people who
must live in crowded and noisy cities actually do a better job of
this than many monastics who live in rural peace. Take heart! It is
not all about place. It is about heart, always heart. Train and fix
your heart and you will always be fine!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]