Holy Rule for Jan. 23: Catching up!
Forgive me, I sent the one for the 25th yesterday and missed the 23rd
Prayers, please, for Maggie, stage II uterine cancer, and for her husband
and all their family. Prayers that she return to practicing her faith, too.
Prayers for R, a doctoral candidate who had his first proposal rejected and,
while reeling from that, lost all his financial support. A young husband and
father, he has a great many worries just now. The supporter who had promised to
help him stopped sending funds with no explanation.
Prayers, please, for Rodney, age 40, found dead yesterday. He was an
alcoholic and had expressed a desire to leave this world. Had been drinking huge
amounts, and everything his family and friends did for him was fruitless.
Rehab had no effect. We must always remember that alcoholism is a disease and
pray for these folks- indeed, for any addicts, with great compassion. Prayers
for two severely ill mental patients and their worried families. Prayers for
Nancy and her family, spiritual, physical and financial well-being, and for the
health of Adam. Lord, help us all 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
January 23, May 24, September 23
Chapter 5: On Obedience
But this very obedience
will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all
only if what is commanded is done
without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection.
For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God,
since He Himself has said,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will,
for "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).
For if the disciple obeys with an ill will
not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart,
then even though he fulfill the command
yet his work will not be acceptable to God,
who sees that his heart is murmuring.
And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this,
he will incur the punishment due to murmurers,
unless he amend and make satisfaction.
Trust me, folks, I am not second-guessing St. Benedict on this one, I
just think there is a chance that he is often misread and that
something not at all contrary to his precepts needs to be emphasized.
Few who share my cynical bent would fail to chafe at a reading of
this passage which seems to imply that we must all be cheerful, Pollyanna
optimists, blithely smiling automatons. Yes, we are told not to
murmur, and to put the very best face on our obedience that we
possibly can. Often the real miracle of grace is that we can just
barely obey in silence, without any comment at all. No doubt that is
a tender mercy to those who live with us! We must not read St.
Benedict harshly, even less so God. We must keep the loving parent
image ever before our eyes in both instances.
I want to expand the image of the non-murmuring heart a bit. Some
days one's heart cannot murmur, because it is numb and paralyzed,
unable to do much of anything more explicit than ache. After being racked
and tortured brutally in prison, St. Edmund Campion's keeper asked him
how he felt. He replied: "Not ill, because not at all."
Some days everything seems like another trip to the rack, some days
one's heart is Ground Zero, and everything coming at it seems to be
just one more horrible plane. Never, never think that St. Benedict is
telling us to put a happy face on this. A brave face or even a blank
expressionless one may be all one can muster. We are asked to try, to
do our best, to be as brave as we can.
How very great is the love of God for us at such times. A favorite
image I have used before is very apt here: the heart of God is like a
Mother's refrigerator door, plastered with children's bad, even
ghastly art. (OK, I KNOW it may be age-appropriate art, but bear with
me on this one....) God is bursting and beaming with pride at our
struggling efforts. He cares not a wit that we are not beaming with
false cheer ourselves. With all that mud on our faces, who could see
the forced smile anyhow?
There will never be a time, in this world or in the next, when God
loves us more than He does when we are fallen, crawling toward Him on
all fours and still barely hanging on. The effort, always the effort
is what God sees.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]