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Mar 15

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX OK, folks, it s a repeat, but it is a good one and I am cooking for the monks today. Enjoy!! Prayers, please, for the health of Dave, rare eye problem.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 15, 2003

      OK, folks, it's a repeat, but it is a good one and I am cooking for
      the monks today. Enjoy!!

      Prayers, please, for the health of Dave, rare eye problem.

      And please say a little prayer for Dr. Jean Ronan, whose teaching
      helped me write today's reflection.


      March 15, July 15, November 14
      Chapter 36: On the Sick

      Before all things and above all things,
      care must be taken of the sick,
      so that they will be served as if they were Christ in person;
      for He Himself said, "I was sick, and you visited Me" (Matt 25:36),
      and, "What you did for one of these least ones, you did for Me"
      But let the sick on their part consider
      that they are being served for the honor of God,
      and let them not annoy their sisters who are serving them
      by their unnecessary demands.
      Yet they should be patiently borne with,
      because from such as these is gained a more abundant reward.
      Therefore the Abbess shall take the greatest care
      that they suffer no neglect.

      For these sick let there be assigned a special room
      and an attendant who is God-fearing, diligent and solicitous.
      Let the use of baths be afforded the sick
      as often as may be expedient;
      but to the healthy, and especially to the young,
      let them be granted more rarely.
      let the use of meat be granted to the sick who are very weak,
      for the restoration of their strength;
      but when they are convalescent,
      let all abstain from meat as usual.

      The Abbess shall take the greatest care
      that the sick be not neglected by the cellarers or the attendants;
      for she also is responsible for what is done wrongly by her disciples.


      Visitors quite characteristically remark on the peace of Benedictine
      monasteries. They surely ought to be able to notice something very
      different from the world at large, something would probably be very
      wrong with the house if none could. On the other hand, no matter how
      politely we may respond to those who exclaim how peaceful things are,
      I'll bet that most monastic hearts- and maybe all- sinkingly
      say: "Yeah, but you don't LIVE here..."

      My dear theology professor, Dr. Jean Ronan, used to always say: "The
      mills of God grind slowly, yet exceeding fine...." She meant that in
      a karma sort of way, what goes around comes around sooner or later.
      However, today's reading and life in community have taught me to see
      an additional meaning. The mills of God truly DO turn very slowly.
      Sometimes their windmill blades are barely stirred by a hesitant
      breeze. No wonder that outsiders and first-time visitors cannot
      notice them grinding the wheat!

      Ah, denied the fall-into-the-ground-and-die brand of outright
      martyrdom, our grains of wheat must be ground into flour, a process
      of immolation no less complete, but most uncomfortably slower! (St.
      Teresa of Avila said that the martyrs "bought Heaven cheaply" winning
      with one swing of the axe what we must struggle on many years to
      acquire.) Don't make the mistake of looking only at the beauty of the
      ripe wheat swaying gently in the breeze and sunlight and the
      smoothness of a sack of pre-sifted flour. Between those two comes a
      LOT of the grindstone! To say nothing of the sickle at first...oh,
      yeah, and that winnowing part- I almost forgot.

      What on earth does all this have to do with care of the sick? Ah, you
      have been patient and that is commendable. Take heart, the point of
      all this is at hand.

      The borders between sickness and meanness and evil are often blurred
      to nearly indistinguishable levels. One age posited demons for
      epilepsy, our own sees exculpating psychological illness or
      impairment behind all manner of skullduggery. We have too little
      time, in many cases, to waste a lot of time with thorny and perhaps
      impossible diagnoses. In charity, we are usually obliged to assume
      that the meanest of people are simply not well. We do, after all,have
      to think the best of

      That can be damnably maddening. We WANT to ascribe blame when hurt or
      wronged. Every flawed human nerve in our body can begin to cry: "No
      quarter, no mercy!" Gee, in a flawed human way of speaking, wouldn't
      it be nice if we could! But we can't, we simply cannot. If we do, we
      become so unlike the mercy of Christ, the love of God, that our souls
      are in very great peril. This can sabotage our spiritual struggles in
      nothing flat.

      Hence, the care of the sick comes very much into play with the way we
      deal with those who hurt or harm us. This is a far different affair
      from doormat policy. Any who have ever worked in health care could
      readily attest that the sick must often be treated with a lot of less
      than lovely stuff: cautery, surgery, pumps and tubes and even, yes,
      at times, amputation. (I had catheterized probably hundreds of people
      before I was ever catheterized myself. It was most informative. How I
      wish my training had started with that procedure being done to me. I
      never did it to a patient the same way again.)

      Hey, all of us are nice, good people in our own eyes much of the
      time. Our biggest gaffs are usually those to which we are all but
      completely blind. We must realize that this is not just true of
      ourselves, but of others as well. And, perhaps most difficult of all,
      we must see that sometimes WE are the ones who really need to be in
      the waiting room for cautery or amputation... Sigh... Ain't life and
      humility grand?

      Hence, whenever a relationship or person truly does require
      remediation, we must behave as we would like to be treated in the
      same circumstance. Compassion, love and gentle kindness, not
      patronization or scorn or abrupt roughness must rule the day. Many of
      us have experienced both the kind of nurse one loved and the kind
      that one would gladly forget if one could! Which sort of treatment do
      you wish to give?

      Love and prayers,

      Jerome, OSB jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Petersham
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