Holy Rule for Oct. 27
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Prayers, please, for Donna who was just diagnosed with a tumor on one of her
kidneys which will require surgery. She has great faith and is very much at
peace about it. Prayers for her family, too, and for those treating her and
those caring for all our prayer folks, spiritually or physically. Deo gratias
and prayers of thanks for Pat, whom we prayed for last week with undiagnosed
chest pain. She had a successful double bypass surgery and is recovering
I ask prayers of all for the will of God in the upcoming United States
elections in early November. So many crucial issues are at stake. Please pray that
our voters- and those they elect- will be led by God to do His will. Lord,
help us 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
February 26, June 27, October 27
Chapter 20: On Reverence in Prayer
When we wish to suggest our wants to persons of high station,
we do not presume to do so
except with humility and reverence.
How much the more, then,
are complete humility and pure devotion necessary
in supplication of the Lord who is God of the universe!
And let us be assured
that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt
but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction.
Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure,
unless it happens to be prolonged
by an inspiration of divine grace.
In community, however, let prayer be very short,
and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.
There is a necessary tension in Benedictine prayer, both public and
private, between the awesome majesty and otherness of God and His
infinite closeness and approachability. God is among us. He is not
the guy next door, but neither is He some untouchable, easily
offended emperor or sultan. Both these truths must be addressed in
order to maintain a correct balance.
God doesn't need ceremony, He doesn't need anything. All the high
church in the world might (or might not...) tickle His fancy, but it
does not one whit for Him personally. The rub here is that WE need
what we offer to God, and that has been all too often forgotten.
In a very real and subtle sense, we BECOME what we offer to God,
often quite unnoticed by ourselves. The upshot of all this is clear:
offer God the lowest possible common denominator and that is what
those offering same will become. Offer Him empty and presumptuous
high church as theatre and be not surprised when those offering such
things become rather ridiculously silly themselves. In very sad fact,
either empty extreme will make people pathetically silly and spiritually
St. Benedict says far less about personal prayer than the Carmelites,
but everything he says here would warm the hearts of Sts. Teresa of
Avila and John of the Cross. The "short and pure" prayer that he
recommends was already a great favorite of the Desert Fathers and
Mothers. They loved "one-liners", often just repeating "O God, come
to my assistance," or other phrases from the Psalms, many of which
figure in the Office to our own day.
This is another truly Benedictine form of prayer, one that can be
started without any preparation at all, the "short and pure"
aspirations repeated from the heart. The Jesus Prayer would work well
here, or any other of a number of phrases from devotional prayer or
Scripture. Like the early Desert monastics, one may weave them into
virtually any part of the day or work.
Even a surprise moment of solitude on an elevator is a chance for a few
good Jesus Prayers! In line at the grocery store one could choose to only
read the scandal sheet headlines every other day (LOL!) and use some
of that time for aspirations instead. Opportunities abound! The shortness of
this prayer is perfect for busy Oblates, a real connection to our
family and way that is accessible to all.
We can get distracted when repeating a one-line prayer many times. On
the one hand, one should struggle to remain focused, but on the
other, a Desert Father once quipped that, if God counted distraction
at Psalmody, no one could be saved! I have always taken great comfort
in that saying, since frequently (like, say, daily...) I more closely
resemble a Tibetan prayer wheel than a praying, conscious monk. It
may be folly, but I hope God is pleased with even those "prayer
wheel" times. Another Desert saying has it that, even when we are
distracted at prayer, it still annoys the demons and is worth at
A very Benedictine warning here that the Carmelites would strongly
approve: prayer is only to be prolonged by "inspiration of divine
grace." When God does let us feel something wonderful in prayer, a
very understandable temptation is to hang onto the feeling, to
prolong it, to produce it again. Doesn't work, folks, and it could
very well turn into a trap. When God prolongs prayer or gives us
graces, fine! Relax, swim in His grace and enjoy it, but never, ever
try to fill the pool for a quick dip on your own. That's not the way
prayer- or God- works.
Love and prayers,
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