Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. July 25
- +PAX Please pray for all those who have or will, this day, ended
their earthly lives by their own hands. May Almighty God in His infinite
mercy grant them eternal rest. Amen. Please pray for our good Brother
Jerome and a solution to his computer problems. In the interim please
bless me by sending prayer requests to: mlopiccolo@...
March 25, July 25, November 24
Chapter 45: On Those Who Make Mistakes in the Oratory
When anyone has made a mistake while reciting a Psalm, a responsory, an
antiphon or a lesson, if he does not humble himself there before all by
making a satisfaction, let him undergo a greater punishment because he
would not correct by humility what he did wrong through carelessness.
But boys for such faults shall be whipped.
This chapter bears the key to Benedictine community and
mercy: the offender is willing, perhaps even eager at times, to humble
himself after a fault, without any prompting, before any action is taken
from superiors. Contrast this with those who resist ardently the
slightest correction and you will quickly see what such behaviour
indicates! The hallmarks of our Order are humility and obedience.
OK, another little slice of monastery life here! Brother Isidore is
Canadian, and runs very true to the stereotypical Canadian politeness
and reticence we Statesiders often tease him about. Brother joins in
this fun with a lot of good humour. (Please note British Commonwealth
spelling preferences here, a token offering!) One of his favourite lines
of jest is: "I'm sorry, it was my fault." This is best repeated while
striking his breast, after a glaringly obvious gaff by the OTHER party,
and all enjoy a laugh.
We follow the custom of kneeling in choir when one makes an audible
mistake here. Brother Isidore sits in my row. On more than one waggish
occasion, I have been known to comment that, if one wants to have a
little fun in choir, all one needs to do is make a mistake, act like
nothing happened, and wait for the Canadian to kneel. Oh, well, it's a
joke we all like- even Brother Isidore!
In winter time, when cough drops appear in choir stalls like a seasonal
rubric, I have also been known to place several crumpled wrappers in
Brother Isidore's choir stall while he was up singing in the schola. For
those who don't know, littering is *THE* original sin in Canada. (Ever
hear people comment how much cleaner the Canadian side of Niagara Falls
is? It's no joke.) Brother always rewards me by recoiling with suitable
horror when he returns to his place and finds the offensive American
The kneeling is just a way to say "I'm sorry" to the group. It also has
some (though by no means a total,) deterrent effect. Many are the days
when I kneel for the third time in one Office hour and just think: "Why
don't I just STAY on my knees for the duration?" It can be funny, too.
Hear a big gaff and watch 2/3 of a row kneel after the verse is
finished. On the other hand, I often- though not always, alas- try not
to look at who kneels. I can assure you, from the many times I kneel
myself, I find merit in the practice every time. Honestly and truthfully
admitting gaffs can be a source of great growth.
And there's the key for all of us who are NOT in choir. Admit your
mistakes, own up, apologize. These common courtesies are very Christ-
like and are very, very rare in our world today. Modern people can have
such a distorted view of their own impeccability. When we admit ours, we
throw a compelling image of Christ into that secular morass. It may be
just throwing bread on the waters, but we never know whom our truthful
admissions may touch and lead to God.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]