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Prayers, please, for all those afflicted with SARS, the mysterious
new Asian disease, especially for those in Toronto, caregivers and
patients, who have asked prayers and for N., who is making a tough
decision about involvement in this contagious atmosphere. God's will
be done! Thanks so much. NRN JL
April 1, August 1, December 1
Chapter 50: On Sisters Who are Working
Far From the Oratory or Are on a Journey
Those sisters who are working at a great distance
and cannot get to the oratory at the proper time --
the Abbess judging that such is the case --
shall perform the Work of God
in the place where they are working,
bending their knees in reverence before God.
Likewise those who have been sent on a journey
shall not let the appointed Hours pass by,
but shall say the Office by themselves as well as they can
and not neglect to render the task of their service.
Here's a chapter that speaks loud and clear to Oblates in the world.
We have all been sent on our journeys by God, so the journey is good,
but in the midst of it we must carry our monastery and, to a certain
extent, even its choir, in our hearts. It is a fact that we are away
from the monastery most of the time. We may wish it were otherwise,
God, for His own reasons, may not.
Hence, we need to study with special attention the means to carry not
just the monastery and choir, but the entire Holy Rule and all of our
Order in our hearts. There must our cloisters be built. The reins of
obedience for us come not from walls and stones, not from the
constant presence of a community to help us, but from our free will
and loving gift, from the mindful vigilance of our hearts. This
cloister of the heart, if nurtured, can become in truth a "paradisus
claustralis", a cloistered paradise! But it does take time!
A perennial concern of Oblates is how to say the Office in the world,
or how much of it to say. Actually, that concern is SO perennial that
one can easily get bogged down in it, spinning one's wheels! Satan
doesn't care whether you get caught by temptations to murder or by
temptations to liturgy, so long as you get caught! (Any who have
dealt with certain "liturgists", presumed and otherwise, will
quickly note the similarities between temptations to murder and
The answer here is loud and clear, both terribly simple and (like the
perfection of so many simple things,) not a little daunting: "as well
as they can." Now look at this precept, really look at it. That means
that you will never be able to solemnly intone the Hours in many, if
not most of the places you live and work. Which also means that God,
of all the most merciful and loving, clearly understands the limits
of your life.
I hesitate to mention depression too often, but because it is my
personal experience and I know that it has trememndous connections to
the spiritual life for good or ill, I'll risk it! Ever hear about one
of the symptoms of depression being trouble concentrating? Let me
tell you, beloveds, when I can deny any other sign, I can never deny
that one. Twenty minutes of memorized prayers and Psalms takes an
hour or more. And certainly NOT because one is swept up into the
seventh heaven! Quite the reverse! One's mind jumps everywhere, like
an agile monkey on speed leaping from tree to tree in the canopy of
an endlessly confusing jungle. The words are just repeated, with so
little attention, feeling or meaning. And even that is a crushing
effort at times. Sigh...
If you are at all like me, you will feel badly about that: "Oh, no!
I've been distracted at prayer again..." Don't make it any worse than
it already is: God fully knows WHY we are distracted, why we are
limited by anything within or without. Just calm down and do the best
you can. I have long since resigned myself to ruefully chuckling that
often I am no better at all than a mindless, mechanical prayer wheel,
like those spun in Tibet. I hope God accepts all our prayer wheel
days and I really think He does! So long as we are not deliberately
slovenly or careless about prayer, it delights God, and, as one of
the Fathers observed, even distracted prayer makes the devil mad!
A quick suggestion as a way to bring monastery and choir into our
busy day. This is one of my favorites, one of two prayers proper to
the morning hour of Prime. It is easily memorized and therefore VERY
portable! It can sneak into the tiniest of places in a busy day and
carry the heart right to God and its cloister of peace and truth.
" O Lord God, King of heaven and earth, be pleased this day to direct
and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, our thoughts,
words and deeds according to Your law and in obedience to Your
commandments. Now and forever may we attain salvation and freedom by
Your help, O Savior of the world, Who lives and reigns forever and
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA