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Mar 31

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers for Ian and Dana, custody mess today, also for Peg, sick while travleing in Europe, for all those in war zones and for peace in all hearts! Thanks
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2003

      Prayers for Ian and Dana, custody mess today, also for Peg, sick
      while travleing in Europe, for all those in war zones and for peace
      in all hearts! Thanks so much. God's will be done! NRN jl

      March 31, July 31, November 30
      Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent

      Although the life of a monk
      ought to have about it at all times
      the character of a Lenten observance,
      yet since few have the virtue for that,
      we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
      the brethren keep their lives most pure
      and at the same time wash away during these holy days
      all the negligences of other times.
      And this will be worthily done
      if we restrain ourselves from all vices
      and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
      to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

      During these days, therefore,
      let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
      as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
      Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
      "with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
      something above the measure required of him.
      From his body, that is
      he may withold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
      and with the joy of spiritual desire
      he may look forward to holy Easter.

      Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
      what it is that he wants to offer,
      and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
      For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
      will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
      and will merit no reward.
      Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.


      What does this idea of a perpetual Lent mean? Wow! There's a real
      party animal life! Yecch! (Which is exactly how St. Benedict knew
      that most of us would react: "...few have the virtue for that...")

      Well, for one thing, let us look closely at Lent as a time of special
      spiritual effort and striving. That is a prime example of the sort of
      perpetual Lent we, who seek the wisdom of St. Benedict's Holy Rule,
      ought always to keep. It is intimately tied to our Benedictine vow of
      conversatio morum, change of our way of life, which demands that we
      never altogether stop trying to be better.

      Listen, beloveds, I hope none of us who have put our hands to the
      plough ever turn back, but get real! Many of us take all the bathroom
      breaks we can! So human, so easy to forget that! But, in my own
      experience, it is also easy (embarrassingly easy sometimes!) to keep
      trying, in even the most token of ways.

      Bear in mind that I am light years away from being the best
      housekeeper, of my soul or my room. When a really bad depression
      strikes, I manage to put one foot in front of the other and function,
      for the most part. But my living space, on which I can lock the door,
      suffers sorely. With a long experience, I know that this can feed the
      depression: now, cyclically on top of everything else, one lives in a
      growing dump. Sigh...

      Here's what I have done, at least some of the time. I resolve to make
      three things about my room better. I know myself fairly well, so I
      set the standards for that REALLY low. It may be as simple as moving
      a stamp that I have left somewhere. Sometimes it seems totally
      insignificant, sometimes its only value is a token effort. But it
      keeps me going and it keeps me trying and I can assure you, it is
      very do-able!

      I tell you this because we can do the same sort of thing with our
      souls on days when nothing in the world makes us want to change our
      minds about not trying at all. Do three tiny things, even tiniest
      things. Anyone can usually pull that off. Sometimes, as my dear amma
      Pauline had said, "the only way to stay married is not to leave."

      That will often be true of all of our monastic struggles. Sometimes
      the best we can do is not to leave, not to quit. God, Who made us,
      perfectly understands that and smiles warmly at our pathetic human
      efforts. His Mercy is infinitely closer to us at such down times than
      we could ever imagine. We are never, never alone. But we must learn
      to act as if we beleive that!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA
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