Holy Rule for August 8
Prayers, please, for all Dominicans, on the feast of their founder, St. Dominic, and for our own novice, Brother Dominic, who seems to be doing quite well in his vocation here. May it continue according to God's will!
Prayers for a hospital board meeting of great import, that God's Spirit prevail in a very difficult situation. Prayers for a young man beginning a prison term for drug charges and for his recovery. Prayers for John and his wife, Anne. John is the fellow we prayed for the other day for a colonoscopy. Suspicious polyps have been found, and since he has already had colon surgery, both John and Anne are considerably concerned. 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 8, August 8, December 8
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren (continued)
For bedding let this suffice:
a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.
The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
to see if any private property be found in them.
If anyone should be found to have something
that he did not receive from the Abbot,
let him undergo the most severe discipline.
And in order that this vice of private ownership
may be cut out by the roots,
the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
that all pretext of need may be taken away.
Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need"
In this manner, therefore,
let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
and not the ill-will of the envious.
But in all his decisions
let him think about the retribution of God.
WOW! Sneaky personal stashes, even in St. Benedict's time! Some
things in human nature never change... What is really going on here?
Property is not evil in itself. Why would St. Benedict be so upset on this
The following common flaws in ownership apply largely to us all, even if
they have greater ramifications for monastics in community. Things can be a
useful tool- St. Thomas taught that a certain amount of goods was necessary to
help us more effectively work out our salvation. However, they can all too
easily exceed that necessary mark and become idols and falsehoods. That's what
the Holy Rule seeks to prevent.
Look at the rich man building granaries in the Gospel. Three HUGE
mistakes there! He wasn't sharing as much as he could, he thought he could
protect his wealth from loss and he thought his wealth would protect him from
disaster. Wrong on all counts....
We, too, when we hoard, are usually guilty of at least one or two of those
three lies, sometimes all of them at once. Speaking as a
hoarder in only episodic recovery, I know what I'm talking about. I
have allowed things to lie to me all too often.
Things don't make us safe. God does. Things will never protect us.
God does. In the ultimate sense, things cannot make us happy, though they
might for a while. God does. Things wear out, run out, corrupt, get stolen or
lost. God does not.
Things tell us we're in control. We're not. Things can tell us we are
special, different from those "other" people who do not have them. We're not.
Things can convince we we'll be at peace, once we get them. We won't.
Things can and do serve a lot of perfectly wonderful purposes. They
do so, however, only when used and valued in correct balance. I have seen
people so delighted by a simple gift that I've wished I had more to give. But
neither I nor the recipient thought that gift bought love, or thought it was
an adequate substitute for my own love for them. Had we done so, the whole
experience would have been colored quite differently for both of us, and not
Most of us will spend most- if not ALL- of our lives trying to fine
tune the reality of things. Not just material things, but all that
monasticism asks us to balance: sexuality, our will, our hearts, our
actions, our words. That will be a tremendous, lifelong struggle.
We won't win any of those battles in one or two forays, not unless
God gives us a VERY rare and nearly unheard of grace. We have to keep
chipping away at this mountain range all of our lives. We'll probably never
reduce those mountains to a flat, fertile valley entirely.
The most that we can usually hope for would be gently rolling
foothills. Still, God knows that far better than we do, and all God
asks is that we keep chipping, always chipping and grow not
disheartened. Does that sound much like perseverance in stability?
Love and prayers,
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