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Feb 3

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  • russophile2002 <jeromeleo@earthlink.net>
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Neil, 20, suffering from leukemia after a series of strokes and now trying stem cell transplants, also for Judith Barnett s
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2003
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for Neil, 20, suffering from leukemia after a series
      of strokes and now trying stem cell transplants, also for Judith
      Barnett's daughter-in-law, who worked with the Shuttle crew at
      Houston and for Fr. David and his wife, Betty, uncle and aunt of crew
      member Laurel Clark, who also lost their son and brother-in-law on
      9/11. Thanks! NRN JL

      February 3, June 4, October 4
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The sixth degree of humility
      is that a monk be content
      with the poorest and worst of everything,
      and that in every occupation assigned him
      he consider himself a bad and worthless workman,
      saying with the Prophet,
      "I am brought to nothing and I am without understanding;
      I have become as a beast of burden before You,
      and I am always with You" (Ps:22-23).


      REFLECTION

      It is easy to miss the hardest word in this reading. Our eyes fly
      right away to the ones we want to argue with- and these days many
      want to argue with them! Slyly stuck into the first line is the
      demand that the monastic "be CONTENT with the poorest and worst of
      everything." The connection this time is not to obedience, but to
      other virtues in humility's service: simplicity and stability.

      Contentedness does not bide its time for a jump to something better,
      does not merely undergo, but accepts rather matter-of-factly.
      Contented monastics aren't hunting for or wondering about something
      else, usually it doesn't even occur to them. Truly contented people,
      in monasteries or in marriage or in the world do not spend a lot of
      time on "what if?" or "what next?". In the 70's a lot of people loved
      the popular phrase on posters: "Bloom where you are planted." Quite
      possibly they never stopped to think exactly what that meant: being
      contented enough to blossom in any circumstance. Whoops! A little
      more teeth to that version!

      I know from personal experience: stability with divided attention,
      with tons of Plans B, C, and D, simply is not very effective. It is
      better than nothing, to be sure, but it is nearly nothing when
      compared with its power once all those distractions are dropped. We
      cannot drop them all at once, but we must try to stay rooted, ever
      more and more rooted. I know one great monk who told me, at 83, that
      he had finally decided to stay! There was not even a hint of irony of
      twinkle in his voice. On the other hand, I have known monks who were
      happy as clams and completely contented in their forties. It is a
      different struggle for each of us.

      Truly contented simplicity and stability are powerful, counter-
      cultural witnesses to offer this age. Materialism, consumerism and
      the short attention span rule. A consumerist society is actually
      fueled by provoking discontent: how else can superfluous consumption
      imposed? Every time one person, family or monastery gets even
      partially free of those constraints it is a powerful witness to those
      still bound. Most of us truly do not "need" more. The Holy Rule can
      teach us that, but not if we look at it through the lenses we have
      hauled along with us from the 21st century world. Those lenses are
      completely invested in our reaching the opposite- and false-
      conclusion.

      Two cautions here. Good ole Gulf coast Florida boy that I am, I can
      tell you that when one goes crabbing with a big floating washtub full
      of blue crabs tied to your belt, you never have to put a lid on it.
      Why? Because whenever one crab gets close to crawling out, the others
      will pull it down. Don't be surprised if this happens to you! Lots of
      people LOVE consumerist enslavement, or at least think they do! The
      other, equally important consideration is that simplicity is NOT just
      a way to save money- though it will free up plenty. The goal is not
      to hoard what you have saved, but to spread it around or, as St.
      Elizabeth Seton said: "Let us live simply, so that others may simply
      live."

      As to the "bad and worthless workman" line, where I expect there'll
      be a lot of dissent, well, that isn't St. Benedict or me. You'll have
      to argue with Jesus Himself on that one. He said that after we have
      done ALL that was commanded us, we should say we are nothing but
      unprofitable servants. Being God, I don't imagine He was mistaken.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA
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