Holy Rule for August 18
Prayers for Fred, a teen who has opted to leave his Dad and live with his Mother in another country overseas. This seems to be not in Fred's best interest and is tormenting his Dad. Prayers for all the family, and for the Mother, that reason may be seen and the right will of God triumph. Prayers for Bob, fairly advanced cancer, now embarking on treatment, for his family and for strength and grace and God's will for all. Prayers for Margie, bipolar cancer survivor, arthritic, who now suddenly can't walk. Seeing a neurologist for further diagnosis and possible treatment, and for all her family. Prayers of Deo gratias and thanks for D., whose interview was successful and got the job! 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 18, August 18, December 18
Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community
Let all keep their places in the monastery
established by the time of their entrance,
the merit of their lives and the decision of the Abbot.
Yet the Abbot must not disturb the flock committed to him,
nor by an arbitrary use of his power ordain anything unjustly;
but let him always think
of the account he will have to render to God
for all his decisions and his deeds.
Therefore in that order which he has established
or which they already had,
let the brethren approach to receive the kiss of peace and Communion,
intone the Psalms and stand in choir.
And in no place whatever should age decide the order
or be prejudicial to it;
for Samuel and Daniel as mere boys judged priests.
Except for those already mentioned, therefore,
whom the Abbot has promoted by a special decision
or demoted for definite reasons,
all the rest shall take their order
according to the time of their entrance.
Thus, for example,
he who came to the monastery at the second hour of the day,
whatever be his age or his dignity,
must know that he is junior
to one who came at the first hour of the day.
Boys, however, are to be kept under discipline
in all matters and by everyone.
I have known one monk of St. Leo who may perhaps have been delighted
to be the most senior monk by age and entrance, but he is long gone
now. The others I have known, who either held the first place or
hovered near it, could not have cared less, might even chuckle about
it if reminded. I like their way better.
Rank is a handy way to organize people in line, but after that, its
usefulness quickly diminishes. Rank that one desires or seeks can be
downright pernicious and fatal to a monastic life. If you look at
this chapter closely, it is not hard to see that St. Benedict wanted
his monastics to pretty much take their place and forget about it-
going any higher or lower had nothing to do with their own decision
anyhow and they should be at peace.
There's the rub: to be at peace! We need peace, we need inner
serenity. It is no accident that it became our motto, PAX. That peace
of soul is fertile earth in which God tills His bountiful fields of
graces. It is the foundation we need to build houses firm.
That inner peace becomes impossible when our primary focus is
a scramble to the top. Archbishop Sheen called ambition "the
ecclesiastical lust" and he was very right. What obsesses us often
comes to enslave and own us outright, a tragic turn of events. Our
thirst ought to be holiness, not power or position.
Ever notice the readily apparent peace in a famous politician who has
decided not to run anymore? Whether you like the man or not, a great
freedom and relief is soon noticeable. It was so in Jimmy Carter,
who, when free to be just Jimmy Carter, went on to do wonderful
things. This renunciation is different, far different from quitting.
Mere quitting shows up in a very bad light. What I think we are
seeing is the light of a heart that has learned what NOT to
desire,even if only partially.
By the way, there's no need for any of us reading this to think we
need to take inventory of WHAT we desire and perhaps should not. The
Holy Rule has already done that for us, 1,500 years ago: "Let them
prefer nothing whatever to the love of Christ."
Love and prayers,
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