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Holy Rule for Dec. 4

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  • Jerry Lee
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Scott, leukemia, for all his family and for Fr. Bob, who kindly asked prayers for him. Prayers for Cyril, seeking to follow a
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 4, 2005
      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for Scott, leukemia, for all his family and for Fr. Bob, who kindly asked prayers for him. Prayers for Cyril, seeking to follow a monastic vocation and for Andy and Chris, also discerning where God wants them. For a very painful and complicated domestic crisis and all involved. 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 4, August 4, December 4

      Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests

      Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
      for He is going to say,
      "I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
      And to all let due honor be shown,
      especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.

      As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
      let the Superior or the brethren meet him
      with all charitable service.
      And first of all let them pray together,
      and then exchange the kiss of peace.
      For the kiss of peace should not be offered
      until after the prayers have been said,
      on account of the devil's deceptions.

      In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
      let all humility be shown.
      Let the head be bowed
      or the whole body prostrated on the ground
      in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.

      After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
      let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
      Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
      and then let all kindness be shown him.
      The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
      unless it happens to be a principal fast day
      which may not be violated.
      The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
      Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
      and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
      After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
      "We have received Your mercy, O God,
      in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).

      In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
      the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
      because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
      for as far as the rich are concerned,
      the very fear which they inspire
      wins respect for them.

      REFLECTION

      So much is written about Benedictine hospitality that I thought,
      after over nine years caring for the guesthouse, I'd write about some of the
      things it is NOT, since people sometimes seem confused by this. Yes,
      we are told to receive all as Christ, but at the onset a salient
      difference or two between Christ Himself and the guests becomes
      evident. Christ was sinless, Christ was not a threat to others,
      Christ was perfect in mind and body and soul.

      One of the first things that happened when the care of the guesthouse
      was entrusted to me was the receipt of a list of people who in no way
      were ever to be accepted again. For one reason or another, the
      community absolutely did not want them here again. A few- very few-
      more have added themselves to that list in my time. It is useful to
      note that in every case these people put either themselves or others
      or both at risk for one reason or another. There were some the
      monastics were downright afraid of, others whom other guests would
      have feared had they only known.

      One absolutely stunned into silence an entire group of retreatants of
      which she was not a member by an outburst of verbally violent abuse
      and belligerence that none had seen coming at all. She really ruined
      the retreat for them, destroyed everyone's peace and the peace of the
      house. Everyone walked on eggs for the rest of the weekend. Sorry,
      doesn't happen here twice.

      Another guest used to come here on the bus immediately after
      discharge from psychiatric facilities. He was a potential violence
      threat and would stop taking his meds on discharge, thinking he could
      come to the monastery and "get it all together." Obviously,
      disastrously, what happened was quite the reverse and we finally had
      to say that we would never accept him again without the opportunity
      and freedom to speak with his psychiatrist. He has not been back. We
      were not at all doing him any good, we were actually helping him harm
      himself. Couldn't do that.

      Far short of the psychotic, there comes a time in human relationships
      when we are obliged to stop enabling harm to oneself or to others.
      There comes a time when dysfunction must be named and not embraced.
      That doesn't mean rejection of the person or unkindness, but it does mean
      that sometimes we have to set conditions which reject patterns of
      behavior. For example, "I love you, but I will not deal with you when you are
      being abusive."

      This is where all of us come in, not just the guesthouse. People can
      become toxic to each other. The fact that they may be unwell is
      sometimes no more of a moral issue than the young man off meds. He
      was truly sick, but I had two elderly ladies on retreat in the house
      that I couldn't explain that to. Sick, while informative, was not the
      deciding factor. So it often is with dysfunction, too. Being unwell
      in any degree does not involve an unlimited license to harm.

      One can demonstrate this principle clearly by going even a notch
      above the guesthouse: come to join the monastery addicted to
      disrupting the peace and you will be escorted out, probably well
      before vows.

      People do not enjoy Benedictine hospitality as an always
      and everywhere right. As in any human area, the rights of others must
      be considered and sometimes decisively so. A monastery is a haven of
      peace, but it has to take steps to ensure that it remains that for as
      many as possible.

      One of those steps is the hospitality of saying "No
      more." It is not easy, but it is loving. I can tell you from
      experience that those hearing the "no more" will quite often rail at
      it and at you, terming you unloving, un-Christian, un-Benedictine
      and worse. That's hard to take, but don't buckle. As Dorothy Day
      so often said, "Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us,
      of any of us, but it is the only answer."


      Love and prayers,

      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers for Ron, about to lose his business and one payment away from losing everything. He is in great need of prayer for his finances and family. His
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 3, 2016

        +PAX

         

        Prayers for Ron, about to lose his business and one payment away from losing everything. He is in great need of prayer for his finances and family. His wife, four kids and his parents all live with him. Ardent prayers, please.


        Prayers for Heath, that he not lose his job. Ardent prayers, please.

         

        Praters for the eternal rest of Brandy, 18, who took her own life due to bullying, and for her family and all who mourn her.

         

        Continued prayers for the health of Br. Meinrad, please.

         

        Diane, dementia, and for James, her caregiver and all their family.

         

        Lord, help us all 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 4, August 4, December 4
        Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests

        Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
        for He is going to say,
        "I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
        And to all let due honor be shown,
        especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.

        As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
        let the Superior or the brethren meet him
        with all charitable service.
        And first of all let them pray together,
        and then exchange the kiss of peace.
        For the kiss of peace should not be offered
        until after the prayers have been said,
        on account of the devil's deceptions.

        In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
        let all humility be shown.
        Let the head be bowed
        or the whole body prostrated on the ground
        in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.

        After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
        let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
        Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
        and then let all kindness be shown him.
        The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
        unless it happens to be a principal fast day
        which may not be violated.
        The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
        Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
        and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
        After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
        "We have received Your mercy, O God,
        in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).

        In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
        the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
        because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
        for as far as the rich are concerned,
        the very fear which they inspire
        wins respect for them.

        REFLECTION

        It is embarrassing for me, as a former guestmaster, to write about this
        chapter. My own failures jump out at me all over the place. As some
        might say, it "convicts" me again and again. But that is the way with
        much of the Holy Rule, for all of us. If we can read a chapter with
        smugness, it probably means something is wrong with us!

        St. Benedict goes out of his way to make sure that the poor and
        pilgrims get a specially focused reception. The point of that special
        care is to guarantee that the reverence he insists upon for all might
        come their way. That's the key, in his recurrent use of the
        inclusive "all" in speaking of hospitality. He wants all to be shown
        honor, without respect to class.

        In the Middle Ages, benefactions could come from relatively minor
        noblemen that far exceed anything we might know today: lands,
        endowments, all kinds of things. Whole monasteries were often founded
        and initially supported by one feudal lord. In that age, as in our
        own, there was little danger of a wealthy benefactor being snubbed.

        The whole point here is that due honor be shown to everyone, that

        the poor be treated as well as the rich. The poor and pilgrims come to the
        door with zero clout. St. Benedict wants to make certain that will
        not matter.

        Having been guestmaster in an age of postal service, telephone and email, I
        look back on earlier times and marvel at the holiness it must have
        taken to do hospitality in those times. Yes, the very great could
        send a courier to warn of their approach, but they often had HUGE
        entourages, all of whom expected to be kept more or less in style.

        The poor and pilgrims, on the other hand, had no way whatever to call
        ahead and reserve. They arrived at the door vulnerable and in great
        need, with no way of knowing whether or not the Duke of Burgundy had
        just occupied 70 beds or so, to say nothing of stables and fodder for
        his horses!

        Looking at the trials of being gracious in such a
        perennially unpredictable situation, I have come to the conclusion
        that there must be a LOT of guestmaster saints to whom I should be praying
        for improvement in my monastic life. The occasional annoyances of my
        own job paled in comparison to theirs!

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA

         

         

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