Prayers, please, for Mary, inoperable cancer and facing chemo and radiation, for her son, John and all their family. Prayers for Maureen, having ill-advised breast surgery, and for Pauline, nervous about an upcoming mammogram and afflicted with awful itching, probably from the nerves. Prayers for Roger, in boot camp military training at Camp Pendleton. Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias for Isaac, who just got a teaching position. 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 13, August 13, December 13
Chapter 59: On the Sons of Nobles and of the Poor Who Are Offered
If anyone of the nobility
offers his son to God in the monastery
and the boy is very young,
let his parents draw up the document which we mentioned above;
and at the oblation
let them wrap the document itself and the boy's hand in the altar
That is how they offer him.
As regards their property,
they shall promise in the same petition under oath
that they will never of themselves, or through an intermediary,
or in any way whatever,
give him anything
or provide him with the opportunity of owning anything.
if they are unwilling to do this,
and if they want to offer something as an alms to the monastery
for their advantage,
let them make a donation
of the property they wish to give to the monastery,
reserving the income to themselves if they wish.
And in this way let everything be barred,
so that the boy may have no expectations
whereby (which God forbid) he might be deceived and ruined,
as we have learned by experience.
Let those who are less well-to-do make a similar offering.
But those who have nothing at all
shall simply draw up the document
and offer their son before witnesses at the oblation.
It is so like St. Benedict to have a sliding scale, and he lets us
know in the very title of this chapter that both nobles and the poor
may offer their children or in our own days, themselves to the
monastery as Oblates. Yes, the gift of a feudal lord was bound to be
more complicated, so he spends most of his time clearing up matters
there, but he returns to his sliding scale theme at the end, with
special provisions for the not-so rich and the totally not rich at all!
Oblation is a two way street. I spend a lot of time stressing what
the Oblates receive or ought to receive from their monastery because,
in years past, that seems to have been the most neglected area. Some
places had a somewhat condescending view of the Oblates as pious but
none too bright people who would come once or twice a year, be
contented, nay, thrilled, with very little in the way of depth
formation and would leave money as they went home. That view is dying
a very well-deserved death these days. Deo gratias!!
Money given properly with the right intention can be a very
connecting thing. When I had a salary, I tithed to some nuns in Peru.
I'll likely never go to Peru, but I still feel connected to them and
pray for them every single day. Money is OK when no other means of
physically present participation is possible. Not shabby! But
everyone, as St. Benedict knew so well, does not have money. What
Notice what I did above? I connected, as I did in real life, the
monetary gifts to prayer. Can't be absolutely certain that the
Sechura Tyburn nuns went into my morning offering the very first day
I sent the first gift, but it was close. The checks stopped coming
years ago, but the prayers go on and on and will continue as long as
If you are one who can give money, always, always be very
careful to make sure it is not the only thing you give. Money, for
all its pragmatic usefulness, is not the monastery's greatest
treasure. Prayers, penance and good works are. It is to the latter
bank that everyone must make hefty deposits!
Every Christian in the world, not just Oblates, has a vast treasury
of prayer, of fasting, of works of charity and mercy that they not
only can, but must share with others. That's the principal gift that
anyone can give, because, unlike money, it truly is eternal. Love, merit and
grace are all, literally all, that we get to take with us into heaven. This is as
true of a monastery or a family as it is of any individual. When all
of us are facing God and eternity, the pragmatic side of financial
benefactions will be worth nothing, only the heart which gave and the
heart which received will last and be counted.
Monasteries and families have to be emphatically equal in their
gratitude. If one grandson made it through medical school with honors
and can now buy Grandma a new color TV, fine, wonderful! But his
cousin who is still in drug rehab for the third try in as many years
has to feel just as loved. In fact, the troubled one probably needs
to feel more loved, since his cousin's success may well add to his
Hey, a new TV for Granny or a new library for the college. It's not
that different at all. Families and monasteries need to show others
and the world what we value most. Sure, it's a wonderful thing to
give or receive huge benefactions, but the greatest treasures
for any of us, monastic, spouse, parent or child, are spiritual, non-
rotting, non-rusting, but NOT non-stick. No Teflon there! Those gifts
are going with us to God, whether we gave or received them!
Granny might love her new TV, and since it has those handy built in
captions, she can even understand what's really going on in her
favorite soap operas again. However, if Granny has her wits about her
at all, she will likely know and see that the best gifts she ever
received are the suffering prayers of her struggling drug addict, as
well as the tearful prayers she has shed for him!
Love and prayers,
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