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Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. Dec 5

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  • Michael LoPiccolo
    +PAX +Please bless me with your Prayer Requests at: michael_oblate@yahoo.com +Please pray for Carol as she leaves Korea on Thursday to fly back home to the
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 4, 2006
      +PAX


      +Please bless me with your "Prayer Requests" at:
      michael_oblate@...


      +Please pray for Carol as she leaves Korea on Thursday to fly back
      home to the States. She have been visiting her husband who is
      stationed with the Army in Korea for a year. It is extremely
      difficult for them to part again. Please pray for safety and for
      emotional health for Carol and her husband. +Please pray for the
      recovery of Mary's beloved lovebird Luigi. He is like a child to
      her; he is that important. He has a serious respiratory ailment and
      so far meds aren't working. +Please pray for SCJ who may be losing
      her much needed overtime at work. She desperately needs this money
      to make ends meet. If she loses the overtime, she will need to find
      a part-time job and with her health issues she cannot afford to do
      that either. +Please pray that D. will be blessed with discernment,
      willingness and steadfastness in faith. +Please continue to pray
      for R. and her husband. Medical bills and other expenses are
      insurmountable and they are really
      depressed over it. It is so very hard not to even have funds to buy
      their grandchildren gifts for Christmas. Plus, R. is facing surgery
      again soon. +Please pray that Divine Mercy will shine on all 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 5, August 5, December 5
      Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests

      Let there be a separate kitchen for the Abbot and guests,
      that the brethren may not be disturbed when guests,
      who are never lacking in a monastery,
      arrive at irregular hours.
      Let two brethren capable of filling the office well
      be appointed for a year to have charge of this kitchen.
      Let them be given such help as they need,
      that they may serve without murmuring.
      And on the other hand,
      when they have less to occupy them,
      let them go out to whatever work is assigned them.

      And not only in their case
      but in all the offices of the monastery
      let this arrangement be observed,
      that when help is needed it be supplied,
      and again when the workers are unoccupied
      they do whatever they are bidden.

      The guest house also shall be assigned to a brother
      whose soul is possessed by the fear of God.
      Let there be a sufficient number of beds made up in it;
      and let the house of God be managed by prudent men
      and in a prudent manner.

      On no account shall anyone who is not so ordered
      associate or converse with guests.
      But if he should meet them or see them,
      let him greet them humbly, as we have said,
      ask their blessing and pass on,
      saying that he is not allowed to converse with a guest.

      REFLECTION

      I am living proof that, when a monastery has to, it can get by with
      less than a guestmaster "possessed by the fear of God." Some
      days, "impressed by the fear of God" in others is about the best I
      can pull off. There are other days when I take comfort in the fact
      that the
      minimum the Holy Rule gives about the guest house itself is that
      there
      be a sufficient number of made-up beds and a kitchen of its own,
      because frills beyond that are not likely to be forthcoming! But I
      digress...

      Asking that the house of God be prudently governed by the prudent
      surely applies to more than the guest house. That principle goes for
      the whole monastery, as well as for the families and homes of those
      monastics in the world outside the cloister. This is not just another
      call to frugality or economy or order for their own sakes. We are
      Benedictines, we don't do ANYTHING for its own sake, except God!

      The important reason behind this prudence and care is that we ARE
      managing the House of God. All our Benedictine homes, our monasteries
      and our guesthouses are the Houses of God. The humblest one-room
      studio apartment of an Oblate is the House of God. How easily we
      forget
      that, how commonly (the adverb is no accident here!) we think of
      those
      places as solely our own!

      The whole idea of balance and peace and moderation and serenity is
      nothing more or less than a singular setting for a pearl of very
      great price. We need those things for our monastic struggle to be
      most effective. Sometimes a surgeon might have to operate on a bloody
      battlefield, but don't be surprised if infection follows. It's the
      same with us and dysfunctional, imprudent messes.

      We CAN operate there if we have to, but infections are likely. We
      need a certain amount of reduction of inconsequential hassles to
      focus on the one thing necessary. St. Benedict strives to provide us
      with that. No, the monastery is not a sterile surgical suite (and I
      always worry when one looks that way!) but neither is it an ill-
      housed flock of free range chickens. Show me a monastery or home that
      has become a chaotic mess and I can guarantee you there will be a
      LOT of
      spiritual ramifications, as well.

      We are not necessarily Thomists (though if memory serves me properly,
      our Order conducted some of St. Thomas Aquinas' early schooling,) but
      we can surely affirm that "peace is the tranquility of order." St.
      Thomas' view of the virtues is important to us, too, imbued with the
      principles of Aristotle: "Virtus in media stat." Virtue stands in the
      middle way. What could be more Benedictinely moderate and balanced?

      It must be clearly remembered that when we speak of "prudence", we
      speak of a virtue, a thing of holiness and a golden mean. Not for
      nothing did our contemporary language get the unlovely title
      of "prude" from the same root. All manner of foolish timidity,
      cowardice, stinge and hearts-by-Frigidaire prudishness have been
      falsely named prudence.

      Prudence is not and never can be a wicked thing. Prudence, real
      wisdom, is a thing always to be desired. False prudence, on the other
      hand, of which there is sadly no shortage, is a thing always and
      everywhere to be rejected. Give such people a lot of room.

      False prudence and meanness of spirit, whatever else they
      may be, are windows into one's heart. The view is not always lovely
      and may require a lot of prayer, but one is better off to never
      follow the example of such a troubled person. Just be kind and
      very, very careful!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA
    • Michael LoPiccolo
      +PAX A blessed feast of St. Nicholas to all. May his intercession clean up the mess of secularized Christmas, so much of which is wrongly laid at his feet as
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 5, 2006
        +PAX

        A blessed feast of St. Nicholas to all. May his intercession clean
        up the mess of secularized Christmas, so much of which is wrongly
        laid at his feet as being the source of Santa Claus. A trick of
        language, but poor St. Nicholas is NOT to blame for the lunacy that
        currently obtains, to the more or less complete exclusion of God.
        Not at all what our saint would have wanted! Special prayers for the
        mission of St. Nicholas, formerly of Bobtown, PA, which I was
        privileged to serve for two summers.

        Prayers for the repose of my dear friend, Father Jude Krogol, OSB,
        of St. Leo
        Abbey, on the anniversary of his death. Please, those of you so
        inclined, say a Divine Mercy Chaplet for his happy death. Prayers,
        too, for his eternal rest with God. +Prayers please for Thomas, a
        troubled young man recently arrested on a variety of charges
        involving assault and alcohol. Prayers please, also for his parents
        who have struggled to lead him down a far better path than he has
        chosen for himself. May they all sense God's healing presence in
        their lives. +Pray please for Joe J., who is being denied any access
        at all to his two daughters by their mother, his estranged wife. He
        is genuinely a devoted father. +Please pray for Lorraine, who died,
        for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her.
        +Prayers please for Patrick, unemployed for 6 weeks, seeking the job
        God wants for him, and for his family. + Prayers please for Emma who
        will resume chemo treatments on Wednesday. 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 6, August 6, December 6
        Chapter 54: Whether a Monastic Should Receive Letters or Anything
        Else

        On no account shall a monastic be allowed
        to receive letters, blessed tokens or any little gift whatsoever
        from parents or anyone else,
        or from her sisters,
        or to give the same,
        without the Abbess's permission.
        But if anything is sent her even by her parents,
        let her not presume to take it
        before it has been shown to the Abbess.
        And it shall be in the Abbess's power to decide
        to whom it shall be given,
        if she allows it to be received;
        and the sister to whom it was sent should not be grieved,
        lest occasion be given to the devil.

        Should anyone presume to act otherwise,
        let her undergo the discipline of the Rule.

        REFLECTION

        Part of this is about equality, part of it is about depending on
        one's community for everything. But there is another part that is
        more readily available to monastics and Oblates in the world, a
        certain cloister of the heart, a partial flight from the secular.

        Outside news, to which we all can become so easily addicted, is not
        always useful, let alone nourishing. When I was a pastoral associate
        in Boston, I was the slave of the weather channel: knew the five day
        forecast ALL the time. Then I moved here- no cable anywhere- and
        pretty much let God surprise me each morning with whatever was
        available. Granted, traveling on foot and by subway to do a lot of
        ministry in Boston, I did have a greater need to know, but not THAT
        great!

        We get a Sunday paper (the NY Times,) once a week and that is it. If
        something really big happens between Sundays, the regulars who come
        to Mass will tell us. That's how we found out about Princess Diana.
        Our contractor told us about 9/11. We were in Mass, praying for the
        world anyway, with no clue that the towers were literally falling as
        we prayed, that the Pentagon was on fire and thousands were dead.

        It really didn't matter, in one sense, whether we knew or not: we
        were already praying. Our prayers did not need details to be
        effective. The heart of God was already breaking, already knew, HAD
        already known from all time and beyond. We were just begging Him to
        look at His people while not knowing which ones needed it most. That
        made no difference. We ALWAYS know less than Him. It is the usual
        human condition!

        You may be sure we all watched Diana's funeral, and you may be sure
        we all watched the 9/11 news. We're not dinosaurs and we cared
        deeply. However, having lived on both sides now (what a song cue for
        Judy Collins!) of the media divide, I can assure you that a whole lot
        of extraneous stuff got mixed in with a very little bit of worthwhile
        data.

        There is much that is false, truly false and illusory in the
        world. We all know that quite well. What we can miss is that media's
        job is to make a lot of things much, much more real and pressing than
        they are or will ever be. That sort of illusion we can easily do
        without.

        This is in no way obscurantist or anti-intellectual, but a part of
        the monastic heart actually LIKES to be out of touch in some areas
        and profits from same. No one has to live in a cave, but I, as I
        imagine most of us without any dream of large stock holdings, would
        have managed quite well without knowing about every corporate scandal
        in excruciating detail.

        In a country where it only recently became illegal to take the life
        of a late-term
        abortion baby born fully alive, (a law already challenged in
        court,) I'll do fine without a daily (and I do mean daily,) vital
        signs watch on a whale
        that beached itself, quite possibly with excellent reasons known to
        the whale alone, on Cape Cod. There's a lot of stuff we DON'T need to
        know, and in not knowing some of it there lies a great peace!

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA
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