Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. Dec 5
+Please bless me with your "Prayer Requests" at:
+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.
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
minimum the Holy Rule gives about the guest house itself is that
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
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
that, how commonly (the adverb is no accident here!) we think of
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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,