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Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. Dec 4

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  • Michael LoPiccolo
    +PAX +Please bless me with your Prayer Requests at: michael_oblate@yahoo.com +Please pray for the hundreds of thousands in the USA who are without electric
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2006

      +Please bless me with your "Prayer Requests" at:

      +Please pray for the hundreds of thousands in the USA who are
      without electric power or heat in this devastating storm. +Please
      pray for Jackson who has been operated on for liver cancer, and is
      back in the hospital with more problems. This time intestinal
      obstruction. +

      +Please pray that Divine Mercy will shine upon those souls who have
      taken their own lives.+ 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.


      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
      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
      Petersham, MA
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