Prayers, please, for Pat F., biopsy for spreading cancer, and for her
Mom, Ellen, who was buried last week. A very tough time for Pat!
God's will be done. NRN JL
March 18, July 18, November 17
Chapter 39: On the Measure of Food
We think it sufficient for the daily dinner,
whether at the sixth or the ninth hour,
that every table have two cooked dishes
on account of individual infirmities,
so that he who for some reason cannot eat of the one
may make his meal of the other
Therefore let two cooked dishes suffice for all the brethren;
and if any fruit or fresh vegetables are available,
let a third dish be added.
Let a good pound weight of bread suffice for the day,
whether there be only one meal or both dinner and supper.
If they are to have supper,
the cellarer shall reserve a third of that pound,
to be given them at supper.
But if it happens that the work was heavier,
it shall lie within the Abbot's discretion and power,
should it be expedient,
to add something to the fare.
Above all things, however,
over-indulgence must be avoided
and a monk must never be overtaken by indigestion;
for there is nothing so opposed to the Christian character
according to Our Lord's words,
"See to it that your hearts be not burdened
with over-indulgence" (Luke 21:34).
shall not receive the same amount of food as their elders,
and frugality shall be observed in all circumstances.
Except the sick who are very weak,
let all abstain entirely
from eating the flesh of four-footed animals.
The Benedictine golden mean is that of the Lord Himself: we avoid
over-indulgence because it burdens our hearts. This is true of any
over-indulgence: food, drink, property. Our hearts are truly burdened
by our excess, weighed down, kept from flight. Our hearts lag and
fall with the awful results of having ourselves in charge of them!
For those in the developed countries, this chapter on food can be a
very good starting point of surrender. The Western nations in general
and the U.S. in particular are spoiled rotten with food. Obesity in
the U.S. is nearly epidemic and even moderately overweight people
face loads of unnecessary added health risks. Might then food not be
one of the healthiest and most logical places for ascetic striving to
We have, so often, all but lost the ability to say no to ourselves,
yet we all know what a child who is never told "no" is like! Small
wonder that our souls are like restlessly spoiled, antsy children.
They are inner children that long for a bit of order and discipline.
Food is a great place to offer that to the soul!
We need our hearts (figuratively and literally!) in this struggle. A
starving heart is just as crippled as a surfeited one. We need to
find the balance- and that is often hard. But, with God's help and
mercy, we can do all!
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA