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Oct 4

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Celine, who was recently diagnosed with Lupus and is having a very tough time. Thanks so much, NRN. JL February 3, June 4, October 4
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 4, 2002
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      Prayers, please, for Celine, who was recently diagnosed with Lupus
      and is having a very tough time. Thanks so much, NRN. JL

      February 3, June 4, October 4
      Chapter 7: On Humility
      The sixth degree of humility
      is that a monk be content
      with the poorest and worst of everything,
      and that in every occupation assigned him
      he consider himself a bad and worthless workman,
      saying with the Prophet,
      "I am brought to nothing and I am without understanding;
      I have become as a beast of burden before You,
      and I am always with You" (Ps:22-23).

      REFLECTION

      Sorry to be late today!

      This one rings harshly on modern ears. We might have to remind
      ourselves that the point of reference here is Christ, not ourselves,
      not other human beings. When any of us compare ourselves to Christ,
      the answer is bound to be, in somewhat more contemporary terms, "You
      ain't so hot after all... and certainly not so hot as you think you
      are! "

      The best in any field, even professional ones, are those who do not
      think their competence or position raises them above others or makes
      them special, who see their charge as one to serve and elevate
      others, not to be served or elevated themselves. A good nurse,
      doctor, lawyer or academic will never make anyone else feel less
      because their do not share their status. Ah, but the very same thing
      is true for a good minister, a good novice, a good monk in simple
      vows or a solemnly professed one.

      There are all kinds of sneaky traps that can make us foolishly think
      we are more or deserve more. The message here is to defuse all of
      them with a constant mind of humility that says: "Hey, you ain't that
      hot..." Face it, any human honor or position, in church or world, is
      worth nothing at all other than a chance to serve. Miss that and you
      may very well miss the boat entirely.

      Learn from this to chuckle and even laugh at your own absurdity, and
      all of us have our share. Catch yourself (with mindfulness!) when you
      are being ridiculous about something and have a good laugh on
      yourself! For heaven's sake, literally, don't take yourself or your
      position too seriously. That can be dangerously fatal.

      Love and prayers, Jerome, OSB jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA
    • russophile2002
      +PAX Deo gratias! Prayers of thanksgiving for Hayley, for whom we prayed some time ago. She was suicidal and hospitalized after her husband s suicide and has
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 4, 2003
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        Deo gratias! Prayers of thanksgiving for Hayley, for whom we prayed
        some time ago. She was suicidal and hospitalized after her husband's
        suicide and has been under psychiatric care since. She has finally
        been released to go home. God's will is best! All is mercy and grace!
        Thanks so much. JL

        February 3, June 4, October 4
        Chapter 7: On Humility

        The sixth degree of humility
        is that a monk be content
        with the poorest and worst of everything,
        and that in every occupation assigned him
        he consider himself a bad and worthless workman,
        saying with the Prophet,
        "I am brought to nothing and I am without understanding;
        I have become as a beast of burden before You,
        and I am always with You" (Ps:22-23).

        REFLECTION

        It is easy to miss the hardest word in this reading. Our eyes fly
        right away to the ones we want to argue with- and these days many
        want to argue with them! Slyly stuck into the first line is the
        demand that the monastic "be CONTENT with the poorest and worst of
        everything." The connection this time is not to obedience, but to
        other virtues in humility's service: simplicity and stability.

        Contentedness does not bide its time for a jump to something better,
        does not merely undergo, but accepts rather matter-of-factly.
        Contented monastics aren't hunting for or wondering about something
        else, usually it doesn't even occur to them. Truly contented people,
        in monasteries or in marriage or in the world do not spend a lot of
        time on "what if?" or "what next?". In the 70's a lot of people loved
        the popular phrase on posters: "Bloom where you are planted." Quite
        possibly they never stopped to think exactly what that meant: being
        contented enough to blossom in any circumstance. Whoops! A little
        more teeth to that version!

        I know from personal experience: stability with divided attention,
        with tons of Plans B, C, and D, simply is not very effective. It is
        better than nothing, to be sure, but it is nearly nothing when
        compared with its power once all those distractions are dropped. We
        cannot drop them all at once, but we must try to stay rooted, ever
        more and more rooted. I know one great monk who told me, at 83, that
        he had finally decided to stay! There was not even a hint of irony of
        twinkle in his voice. On the other hand, I have known monks who were
        happy as clams and completely contented in their forties. It is a
        different struggle for each of us.

        Truly contented simplicity and stability are powerful, counter-
        cultural witnesses to offer this age. Materialism, consumerism and
        the short attention span rule. A consumerist society is actually
        fueled by provoking discontent: how else can superfluous consumption
        imposed? Every time one person, family or monastery gets even
        partially free of those constraints it is a powerful witness to those
        still bound. Most of us truly do not "need" more. The Holy Rule can
        teach us that, but not if we look at it through the lenses we have
        hauled along with us from the 21st century world. Those lenses are
        completely invested in our reaching the opposite- and false-
        conclusion.

        Two cautions here. Good ole Gulf coast Florida boy that I am, I can
        tell you that when one goes crabbing with a big floating washtub full
        of blue crabs tied to your belt, you never have to put a lid on it.
        Why? Because whenever one crab gets close to crawling out, the others
        will pull it down. Don't be surprised if this happens to you! Lots of
        people LOVE consumerist enslavement, or at least think they do! The
        other, equally important consideration is that simplicity is NOT just
        a way to save money- though it will free up plenty. The goal is not
        to hoard what you have saved, but to spread it around or, as St.
        Elizabeth Seton said: "Let us live simply, so that others may simply
        live."

        As to the "bad and worthless workman" line, where I expect there'll
        be a lot of dissent, well, that isn't St. Benedict or me. You'll have
        to argue with Jesus Himself on that one. He said that after we have
        done ALL that was commanded us, we should say we are nothing but
        unprofitable servants. Being God, I don't imagine He was mistaken.

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