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Holy Rule for Feb. 18

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  • Brjeromeleo@aol.com
    +PAX Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias: Jeff, the paralyzed man for whom we prayed is infection-free for the first time in years and has been able to go off
    Message 1 of 22 , Feb 17, 2007
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      Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias: Jeff, the paralyzed man for whom we
      prayed is infection-free for the first time in years and has been able to go off
      dialysis. His Mom thanks all for their prayers, continued prayers for him as he
      is doing so well, most unusual for this fellow who has been through so much.
      Prayers for Richard, broke his hip and now is mentally confused, also for
      his daughter who is trying to care for him. Prayers for Russ, who very ill
      with stomach cancer, also for Larry as he continues his job search. Prayers
      of Thanksgiving and Deo gratias as Carol's 1 year anniversary of her Oblate
      Investiture draws near, February 22. Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias for
      Melissa, on her birthday: many more, ad multos annos! Prayers for Bob and
      Michele and their brother-in-law, who is dying of cancer. Continued prayers for
      James, a gaff in lab orders means he has to wait until next week for re-test
      results. Prayers for some Newman Center students here this weekend, may God
      lead them all to their true vocations. 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

      February 18, June 19, October 19
      Chapter 15: At What Times "Alleluia" Is to Be Said

      From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption
      let "Alleluia" be said
      both in the Psalms and in the responsories.
      From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent
      let it be said every night
      with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only.
      On every Sunday, however, outside of Lent,
      the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None
      shall be said with "Alleluia,"
      but Vespers with antiphons.

      The responsories are never to be said with "Alleluia"
      except from Easter to Pentecost.

      REFLECTION

      When I lived in the Byzantine rite for a very happy while, one of the
      things that surprised me was the fact that they still used Alleluia
      in Lent. That sounded strange to my Western ears, but not for long.
      In the West, Alleluia has become virtually nothing but a synonym
      for "Hooray!" In the East, not so. Our Western connection of Alleluia
      as primarily a word of rejoicing reserved for happy times is not
      quite on the mark, with all due apologies to St. Benedict and the
      rest of Western tradition.

      When was the last time you stopped to think that "Amen" really
      meant "So be it"? I do now and then, but usually just parrot the word
      out without a thought. So it is with most people saying
      Alleluia. "Oh, yeah, uh...alleluia...." Alleluia means "Praise the
      Lord." Focus on this and one can readily see why the East still says
      it during Lent.

      Of course, St. Benedict's prescriptions here are a perfect blend of
      change and variety for the Office. They "dress up" the most festive
      times of the years and provide a break from the ordinary. Probably
      what St. Benedict had in mind at the time was that our hearts should
      be so full at Paschaltide that no other words would do: only the
      ineffable stuttering out of "Alleluia!!" would convey our joy. He
      wasn't wrong about that, but saying Alleluia mindlessly misses the
      point.

      So, forgive me, does saying Alleluia only at joyous times. The
      charismatic movement in the 1970's made popular the English
      equivalent of Alleluia: "Praise the Lord!" It was an expression of
      joy and gratitude for whatever God had done for one. Ah, but then
      the "whatever" part of that phrase soon came to be evident! A very
      clever catch phrase evolved for those times when things WEREN'T so
      great, when one had difficulty appreciating what sometimes seems like
      God's decidedly strange sense of humor. On such occasions, they
      said: "Praise the Lord Anyhow!" Now that one is probably closer to
      the real sense of "Alleluia!"

      Our Office and Mass may change in Lent in the Western tradition, but
      our hearts must always and everywhere, in every circumstance,
      say "Alleluia!" and really mean it, really know it.

      Love and prayers and Alleluia!
      Jerome, OSB
      _http://www.stmarysmonastery.org_ (http://www.stmarysmonastery.org/)
      _brjeromeleo@..._ (mailto:brjeromeleo@...)
      Petersham, MA




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest pf Paula, who took her own life, and for all who mourn her, especially her children. Prayers for the
      Message 2 of 22 , Feb 17, 2008
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        Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest pf Paula, who took her own life, and for all who mourn her, especially her children.
        Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

        Deo gratias and many years for Doug Bouley, who visited us here this weekend from DC and had his birthday on Saturday.

        Bill and his family. He is back in the hospital after open heart surgery.

        Cindy requests prayers for her new granddaughter, Julia, who has multiple
        problems, needing heart surgery, now has a blood clot and is facing at
        least 6 more weeks in Neonatal ICU, and for Julia's parents Jason and
        Catherine.

        Nicholas, 28 years old, gone missing after work and not seen since Wed. Called home to tell kids he was on his way and never made it. Wife is newly pregnant with 3rd child. Police, work, town (near Seattle) all searching: no car, no clues, no signs. His mother, and 3 sisters ask prayers of all.

        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

        February 18, June 19, October 19
        Chapter 15: At What Times "Alleluia" Is to Be Said

        From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption
        let "Alleluia" be said
        both in the Psalms and in the responsories.
        From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent
        let it be said every night
        with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only.
        On every Sunday, however, outside of Lent,
        the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None
        shall be said with "Alleluia,"
        but Vespers with antiphons.

        The responsories are never to be said with "Alleluia"
        except from Easter to Pentecost.

        REFLECTION

        When I lived in the Byzantine rite for a very happy while, one of the
        things that surprised me was the fact that they still used Alleluia
        in Lent. That sounded strange to my Western ears, but not for long.
        In the West, Alleluia has become virtually nothing but a synonym
        for "Hooray!" In the East, not so. Our Western connection of Alleluia
        as primarily a word of rejoicing reserved for happy times is not
        quite on the mark, with all due apologies to St. Benedict and the
        rest of Western tradition.

        When was the last time you stopped to think that "Amen" really
        meant "So be it"? I do now and then, but usually just parrot the word
        out without a thought. So it is with most people saying
        Alleluia. "Oh, yeah, uh...alleluia...." Alleluia means "Praise the
        Lord." Focus on this and one can readily see why the East still says
        it during Lent.

        Of course, St. Benedict's prescriptions here are a perfect blend of
        change and variety for the Office. They "dress up" the most festive
        times of the years and provide a break from the ordinary. Probably
        what St. Benedict had in mind at the time was that our hearts should
        be so full at Paschaltide that no other words would do: only the
        ineffable stuttering out of "Alleluia!!" would convey our joy. He
        wasn't wrong about that, but saying Alleluia mindlessly misses the
        point.

        So, forgive me, does saying Alleluia only at joyous times. The
        charismatic movement in the 1970's made popular the English
        equivalent of Alleluia: "Praise the Lord!" It was an expression of
        joy and gratitude for whatever God had done for one. Ah, but then
        the "whatever" part of that phrase soon came to be evident! A very
        clever catch phrase evolved for those times when things WEREN'T so
        great, when one had difficulty appreciating what sometimes seems like
        God's decidedly strange sense of humor. On such occasions, they
        said: "Praise the Lord Anyhow!" Now that one is probably closer to
        the real sense of "Alleluia!"

        Our Office and Mass may change in Lent in the Western tradition, but
        our hearts must always and everywhere, in every circumstance,
        say "Alleluia!" and really mean it, really know it.

        Love and prayers and Alleluia!
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA








        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Br. Jerome Leo
        +PAX Prayers for Don, hormonal therapy for aggressive prostate cancer, other treatments, too, and for the conversion of his children and grandchildren. Prayers
        Message 3 of 22 , Feb 17
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          +PAX
           
          Prayers for Don, hormonal therapy for aggressive prostate cancer, other treatments, too, and for the conversion of his children and grandchildren.
           
          Prayers for Carol, leakage in her house from snow packed so heavily.
           
          Prayers for Jerry, shingles and post-ileostomy pain needs to be identified and managed correctly.
           
          Please pray for those in Malawi experiencing flooding and loss of homes and crops and livestock.also please pray for Anna in Malawi preparing her UK visaholiday application that it will be granted and for Monica hoping to come to the UK for a holiday with her uncle, a priest.
           
          Prayers for Paul, waiting for a liver transplant.
           
          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.

          February 18, June 19, October 19
          Chapter 15: At What Times "Alleluia" Is to Be Said

          From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption
          let "Alleluia" be said
          both in the Psalms and in the responsories.
          From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent
          let it be said every night
          with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only.
          On every Sunday, however, outside of Lent,
          the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None
          shall be said with "Alleluia,"
          but Vespers with antiphons.

          The responsories are never to be said with "Alleluia"
          except from Easter to Pentecost.

          REFLECTION

          When I lived in the Byzantine rite for a very happy while, one of the
          things that surprised me was the fact that they still used Alleluia
          in Lent. That sounded strange to my Western ears, but not for long.
          In the West, Alleluia has become virtually nothing but a synonym
          for "Hooray!" In the East, not so. Our Western connection of Alleluia
          as primarily a word of rejoicing reserved for happy times is not
          quite on the mark, with all due apologies to St. Benedict and the
          rest of Western tradition.

          When was the last time you stopped to think that "Amen" really
          meant "So be it"? I do now and then, but usually just parrot the word
          out without a thought. So it is with most people saying
          Alleluia. "Oh, yeah, uh...alleluia...." Alleluia means "Praise the
          Lord." Focus on this and one can readily see why the East still says
          it during Lent.

          Of course, St. Benedict's prescriptions here are a perfect blend of
          change and variety for the Office. They "dress up" the most festive
          times of the years and provide a break from the ordinary. Probably
          what St. Benedict had in mind at the time was that our hearts should
          be so full at Paschaltide that no other words would do: only the
          ineffable stuttering out of "Alleluia!!" would convey our joy. He
          wasn't wrong about that, but saying Alleluia mindlessly misses the
          point.

          So, forgive me, does saying Alleluia only at joyous times. The
          charismatic movement in the 1970's made popular the English
          equivalent of Alleluia: "Praise the Lord!" It was an expression of
          joy and gratitude for whatever God had done for one. Ah, but then
          the "whatever" part of that phrase soon came to be evident! A very
          clever catch phrase evolved for those times when things WEREN'T so
          great, when one had difficulty appreciating what sometimes seems like
          God's decidedly strange sense of humor. On such occasions, they
          said: "Praise the Lord Anyhow!" So it should be with Alleluia!

          Our Office and Mass may change in Lent in the Western tradition, but
          our hearts must always and everywhere, in every circumstance,
          say "Alleluia!" and really mean it, really know it.

          Love and prayers,
          Jerome, OSB
          http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
          Petersham, MA
           
           
           
           
        • Br. Jerome Leo
          +PAX Continued prayers for Brian, kidney stone too low in his abdomen to use ultrasound, giving him two weeks to try to pass the stone. Prayers for Melissa, on
          Message 4 of 22 , Feb 18
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            +PAX
             
            Continued prayers for Brian, kidney stone too low in his abdomen to use ultrasound, giving him two weeks to try to pass the stone.
             
            Prayers for Melissa, on her upcoming 37th birthday, many more!
             
            Prayers for Carol, anniversary of Oblation coming up on 2/22.
             
            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

            February 19, June 20, October 20
            Chapter 16: How the Work of God Is to Be Performed During the Day

            "Seven times in the day," says the Prophet,
            "I have rendered praise to You" (Ps. 118:164).
            Now that sacred number of seven will be fulfilled by us
            if we perform the Offices of our service
            at the time of the Morning Office,
            of Prime, of Terce, of Sext, of None,
            of Vespers and of Compline,
            since it was of these day Hours that he said,
            "Seven times in the day I have rendered praise to You."
            For as to the Night Office the same Prophet says,
            "In the middle of the night I arose to glorify You" (Ps. 118:62).


            Let us therefore bring our tribute of praise to our Creator
            "for the judgments of His justice" (Ps. 118:164)
            at these times:
            the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext, None,
            Vespers and Compline;
            and in the night let us arise to glorify Him.

            REFLECTION

            Tucked neatly into all this business of naming and counting the Hours
            of the Divine Office comes the actual reason we go to choir or say
            the Office alone. It is "our tribute of praise to our Creator 'for
            the judgments of His justice' "

            OK, tribute, praise, glorify, all those things are familiar enough to
            us, but the zinger here is "for the judgments of His justice."
            Whoops! A lot fall out on that one! Whether we realize it or not, the
            reason we praise God as Benedictines is to thank Him for ALL His
            decisions in regard to us. That isn't easy, but it is terribly valid
            and terribly necessary.

            We thank God- admittedly sometimes with gritted teeth- for all the
            things that did and DIDN'T work out the way we wanted them, for every
            acceptance and every rejection that brought us to be as we find
            ourselves today, in His arms. The jobs we didn't get, the great loves
            which were not reciprocal, the course we flunked, the kids that went
            wrong, the illness that dogs us, the spouse we should never have gone
            out with twice, the unwanted pregnancy, EVERYTHING
            that has shaped our lives and persons is something we thank God for
            in the Office, everything He either permitted to happen or willed for us.

            I mention only the difficult things, because anybody can be thankful
            that the apparently GOOD stuff worked out. I am not saying all the
            bad stuff is God's fault, or that it's our own fault, but ALL of it
            is turned to GOOD by God, He alone can do that, and that is worth singing about!
            All of it! If we look back honestly, we can see the hand of His goodness in the
            darkest times, we can see it in NOT having our way, we can see it in
            everything.

            Since the way God turns all to good is a mystery we shall never know
            fully in this life, we cannot adequately say much of anything but
            thanks and praise, the stammered joy of someone who has received a
            really great gift and is astounded at such generosity. Thanks, God.
            And hey, You really DID know what You were doing all along, didn't
            You?

            Truly, truly, God's will *IS* best! And all is mercy and grace!!!

            A final word about the "seven times daily" part. Many regret that they
            cannot do the whole Office. Indeed, few Oblates in the world have
            lives that can easily accommodate that. Start with small steps. Believe me,
            if one just makes a point of recalling Jesus' presence in our hearts
            and souls seven times a day, that is a firm and wondrous beginning!
            Doesn't take long and fits any schedule. Try it and I think you will see
            what I mean, as well as a change in yourself.

            Love and prayers,
            Jerome, OSB
            Petersham, MA
            www.stmarysmonastery.org
          • Br. Jerome Leo
            +PAX Maura, for whom we have prayed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, has made an amazing recovery and is home from hospital, but now faces a long convalescence at
            Message 5 of 22 , Feb 19
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              +PAX
               

              Maura, for whom we have prayed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, has made an amazing recovery and is home from hospital, but now faces a long convalescence at home.

              Chris’s cancer has now spread to his spine and is causing him pain. Prayers that his pain can be controlled, and his family comforted.

              Gerry asks prayers for his Oblation Anniversary, Feb. 18, 2001. It is never too late to pray.

              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

              February 20, June 21, October 21
              Chapter 17: How Many Psalms Are to Be Said at These Hours

              We have already arranged the order of the psalmody
              for the Night and Morning Offices;
              let us now provide for the remaining Hours.


              At Prime let three Psalms be said,
              separately and not under one "Glory be to the Father."
              The hymn of that Hour
              is to follow the verse "Incline unto my aid, O God,"
              before the Psalms begin.
              Upon completion of the three Psalms
              let one lesson be recited,
              then a verse,
              the "Lord, have mercy on us" and the concluding prayers.


              The Offices of Terce, Sext and None
              are to be celebrated in the same order,
              that is:
              the "Incline unto my aid, O God," the hymn proper to each Hour,
              three Psalms, lesson and verse,
              "Lord, have mercy on us" and concluding prayers.


              If the community is a large one,
              let the Psalms be sung with antiphons;
              but if small,
              let them be sung straight through.


              Let the Psalms of the Vesper Office be limited to four,
              with antiphons.
              After these Psalms the lesson is to be recited,
              then the responsory, the hymn, the verse,
              the canticle from the Gospel book,
              the litany, the Lord's Prayer and the concluding prayers.


              Let Compline be limited to the saying of three Psalms,
              which are to be said straight through without antiphon,
              and after them the hymn of that Hour,
              one lesson, a verse, the "Lord, have mercy on us,"
              the blessing and the concluding prayers.

              REFLECTION

              Just as Lauds and Vespers are fraternal twins, at dawn and sunset, so
              are Prime and Compline, before work and before bed. Both are somewhat
              different from the other minor hours, but, like Lauds and Vespers,
              they share a similarity and complementarity of sorts. Prime was
              suppressed in the Roman rite, but not in the Monastic usage. Still,
              in the reshuffling of things, Prime got lost in many, if not most
              houses. (Imagine my delight when I found it still very much alive and
              well in some UK houses! )

              That loss of Prime is too bad, in a way. Just as Compline features many
              things that prepare one for sleep or for the death it prefigures, always a
              possibility, so Prime prepares one for the day at hand, for its work
              and for life. The traditional time given for the celebration of Prime
              was "before work."

              Some older Oblate manuals used to offer the full text of Prime for
              every day, with the other hour being the changeless Compline. That
              made a great deal of sense. Many Oblates who could only dream
              spending morning hours before work or school celebrating Matins and
              Lauds could easily fit Prime into their schedule and its whole
              liturgical slant was to prepare them for and bless their work day
              ahead.

              One reason Prime became such a prayer for one's workday is that, over
              centuries, the minor hour got merged with a lot of stuff that
              ordinarily happened in the Chapter room daily: reading the Rule and
              assigning work. Hence, some of its additions may not have been of the
              purest type, but let us face it, we are an age that rarely insists on
              purism, and chiefly only when it agrees with agendas we already are
              bent on anyway.

              Let me whet your appetite by giving you the two prayers offered at
              the end of Prime, either or both are a great way to begin the day and
              quickly memorized. Just remember, as you say them, to join your heart
              to the thousands and thousands of monastics who said them every day
              before you. They are a very neat connection to our past and to the
              saints of our Order who have gone before us and they easily fit into
              any morning routine. And, by the way, remember to say the Morning
              Offering, too.

              "Lord God Almighty, You have brought us to the beginning of this day.
              Preserve us now by Your power so that in this day we may not fall
              into any sin; rather, that all our words, thoughts and acts may be
              always directed to doing Your justice. We ask this through Jesus
              Christ our Lord. Amen."

              "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
              ever. Amen"

              Enjoy them and use them!

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

            • Br. Jerome Leo
              +PAX Prayers for the marriage of Pat and Steve. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise
              Message 6 of 22 , Feb 20
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                +PAX
                 
                Prayers for the marriage of Pat and Steve.
                 
                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


                February 21, June 22, October 22
                Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

                Let this verse be said: "Incline unto my aid, O God; O Lord, make
                haste to help me,"
                and the "Glory be to the Father" then the hymn proper to each Hour.


                Then at Prime on Sunday four sections of Psalm 118 are to be said;
                and at each of the remaining Hours, that is Terce, Sext and None,
                three sections of the same Psalm 118.

                At Prime on Monday let three Psalms be said, namely Psalms 1, 2 and
                6. And so each day at Prime until Sunday let three Psalms be said
                in numerical order, to Psalm 19,
                but with Psalms 9 and 17 each divided into two parts. Thus it comes
                about that the Night Office on Sunday always begins with Psalm 20.


                REFLECTION



                I was glad to hear from some who especially loved the prayers of
                Prime. So do I! Here, however, is yet another offering from the
                Office of Prime: its hymn. Being metrical, it is easily memorized.
                A nurse friend of mine told me years ago she used to sing this hymn
                every morning at an Episcopal summer camp for kids. Not a bad idea
                at all! Enjoy!

                Love and prayers,
                Jerome, OSB
                http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                Petersham, MA 01366

                HYMN

                Now that the daylight fills the sky
                We lift our hearts to God on high,
                That He, in all we do or say,
                Would keep us free from harm today:

                Would guard our hearts and tongues from strife;
                From anger's din would hide our life;
                From evil sights would turn our eyes;
                Would close our ears to vanities.

                So we, when this new day is gone
                and night in turn is drawing on,
                With conscience by the world unstained
                Shall praise His name for vict'ry gained.

                To God the Father and the Son
                And Holy Spirit, three in one,
                Be endless glory as before
                The world began, so evermore. Amen.
              • Br. Jerome Leo
                +PAX Prayers for Melissa, on her birthday, and for Carol on her Oblation anniversary, aslo prayers for ice damage to Carol s home done by the heavy snows.
                Message 7 of 22 , Feb 21
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                  +PAX
                   
                  Prayers for Melissa, on her birthday, and for Carol on her Oblation anniversary, aslo prayers for ice damage to Carol's home done by the heavy snows.
                   
                  Prayers for a marriage that needs healing, ongoing prayers, please.
                   
                  Prayers for Violet, 9 months old, admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, and for James, her Dad, and all their family.
                   
                  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

                  February 22, June 23, October 23
                  Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

                  At Terce, Sext and None on Monday
                  let the nine remaining sections of Psalm 118 be said,
                  three at each of these Hours.

                  Psalm 118 having been completed, therefore,
                  on two days, Sunday and Monday,
                  let the nine Psalms from Psalm 119 to Psalm 127
                  be said at Terce, Sext and None,
                  three at each Hour,
                  beginning with Tuesday.
                  And let these same Psalms be repeated every day until Sunday
                  at the same Hours,
                  while the arrangement of hymns, lessons and verses
                  is kept the same on all days;
                  and thus Prime on Sunday will always begin with Psalm 118.


                  REFLECTION

                  It is easy to think that St. Benedict included all this repetition- 6
                  days worth!- in the Psalms of the minor hours for its own sake, but
                  that is not necessarily so. Remember that, in St. Benedict's time,
                  the distinction of lay brothers or sisters, who did not say the full
                  Office in choir, did not yet exist: everyone said the full Office,
                  even while away or working at a distance. I am not sure that was
                  the case often, but it could have been at times, like harvest time.

                  That provides a very likely possibility for the 6 days- all of them
                  working days- of repetition. Try saying the same 9 short Psalms 6 days a
                  week for a while and watch how fast they slip into memory. Monks
                  could pray the minor hours in the fields or on the road to market
                  with farm goods, anywhere.

                  That might not be a bad idea for rushed Oblates today. What if one
                  chose just one of these short minor hours with Gradual Psalms and
                  memorized it, maybe Sext for the lunch hour, or None for the drive
                  home, even Terce for the ride to work? I often say parts of the
                  Office I have memorized on public transport or while driving: no
                  book, no fuss, no worry.

                  It is a great freedom to require nothing but one's memory and heart
                  to say part of the Office. Not only that, but moments of solitude for prayer
                  often surprise us during the day, come when and where we least expect
                  them. Memorized prayers let us always be ready for them.

                  The Psalms were dear to the early monastics because they were seen as
                  a compendium of Scripture. In other words, all the basic elements of
                  Scripture were to be found in them, including representatives of the
                  most common literary forms: history, poetry, prophecy and
                  wisdom/proverbs. No wonder they memorized the entire Psalter, but
                  how that feat boggles our minds today.

                  Love and prayers,
                  Jerome, OSB
                  http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                  Petersham, MA
                   
                   
                • Br. Jerome Leo
                  +PAX Prayers, please, for Br. Vincent and me, driving to my doctor s appt. in Worcester, that the weather and all go smoothly. Lord, help us all as You know
                  Message 8 of 22 , Feb 22
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                    Prayers, please, for Br. Vincent and me, driving to my doctor's appt. in Worcester, that the weather and all go smoothly.
                     
                    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

                    February 23, June 24, October 24
                    Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

                    Vespers are to be sung with four Psalms every day.
                    These shall begin with Psalm 109 and go on to Psalm 147,
                    omitting those which are set apart for other Hours;
                    that is to say that
                    with the exception of Psalms 117 to 127 and Psalms 133 and 142,
                    all the rest of these are to be said at Vespers.
                    And since there are three Psalms too few,
                    let the longer ones of the above number be divided,
                    namely Psalms 138, 143 and 144.
                    But let Psalm 116 because of its brevity be joined to Psalm 115.


                    The order of the Vesper Psalms being thus settled,
                    let the rest of the Hour --
                    lesson, responsory, hymn, verse and canticle --
                    be carried out as we prescribed above.


                    At Compline the same Psalms are to be repeated every day,
                    namely Psalms 4, 90 and 133.

                    REFLECTION

                    Maybe it's just me, but I find Vespers and Compline very different
                    and refreshing. They are evening hours, not followed by work, except
                    for the light clean up after supper, which is not a main meal here
                    anyway. Vespers makes me think of finally getting home and shutting
                    the door after a long day and a tough commute. It is a flavor no
                    other hour has for me. It ends the workday, leaving the evening for
                    family. Not shabby! A rite of passage from the job to the home hearth!

                    A brief glance at the Psalms for Vespers will show that they are yet
                    another example of consecutive, running psalmody. One right after
                    another, except for a few which get bumped elsewhere or thoughtfully
                    divided because of their length. Apparently by numerical
                    happenstance, Psalm 140 winds up in the Vespers grouping, and it is
                    most appropriate: "Let my prayer ascend to You like incense and the
                    lifting up of my hands like an evening sacrifice." Historically,
                    Psalm 140 has appeared in the Vespers or services of light
                    (Lucenaria) of many, many rites.

                    For active monasteries, or for busy Oblates in the world, evening and
                    early morning are often the only times we get of relative cloister
                    and focus. The morning hours are largely available to anyone willing
                    or able to get up while the rest of the world (including the kids!)
                    sleeps, the evening hours perhaps less so. Those evenings are family
                    times par excellence and our first vocations must always be respected.

                    If, as a working parent or spouse, getting home means just getting
                    started with dinner, don't despair! There is (or can be, if you
                    provide for it,) a lot of undistracted solitude in cooking, even if
                    it is rather harried cooking. The solitude of a cook in the kitchen,
                    at work feeding loved ones, is a rich one, indeed. That exercise of
                    care for your loved ones is truly prayer, a graced act of love!

                    If you are into CD's or tapes, get one of somebody else singing Vespers and
                    play it. Heaven knows, if you can put up with the kids' music, they
                    can put up with yours for half an hour a day. Even if you do not
                    listen to every word, the soothing chant will settle into your bones,
                    become a backdrop of peace on which you can position the rest of your
                    evening. Give it a shot for two weeks and I'll bet you find your
                    evening meals and later times very different, because YOU are
                    different!

                    We carry a CD from the monks of Solesmes which has Sunday Vespers and Compline.
                    Click on our webpage, then on gift shop, then on Gregorian Chant.

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

                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                    +PAX Deo gratias, Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar, SJ, held hostage by the Taliban since his abduction in Afghanistan in June, has been released and is safe. This seems
                    Message 9 of 22 , Feb 23
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                      Deo gratias, Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar, SJ, held hostage by the Taliban since his abduction in Afghanistan in June, has been released and is safe. This seems a miracle of prayers answered.
                       
                      Deo graitias, Daniel had discerned to stay where  he is currently employed, that that is where God wants him. Prayers for strength in his resolve.
                       
                      Deo gratias and thanks to God and all who prayed, my appointment went well and there is nothing out of the ordinary to be concerned about.
                       
                      Please pray for the soul of Fra Andrew Bertie , Order of Malta. His family helped refound Pluscarden abbey and please pray for the soul of Fra Freddy Chrichton Stewart, prior of the order in Scotland and an oblate who visited Pluscarden often during his life on earth.
                       
                      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! Thabks so much. JL

                      February 24, June 25, October 25
                      Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

                      The order of psalmody for the day Hours being thus arranged,
                      let all the remaining Psalms be equally distributed
                      among the seven Night Offices
                      by dividing the longer Psalms among them
                      and assigning twelve Psalms to each night.


                      We strongly recommend, however,
                      that if this distribution of the Psalms is displeasing to anyone,
                      she should arrange them otherwise,
                      in whatever way she considers better,
                      but taking care in any case
                      that the Psalter with its full number of 150 Psalms
                      be chanted every week
                      and begun again every Sunday at the Night Office.
                      For those monastics show themselves too lazy
                      in the service to which they are vowed,
                      who chant less than the Psalter with the customary canticles
                      in the course of a week,
                      whereas we read that our holy Fathers
                      strenuously fulfilled that task in a single day.
                      May we, lukewarm that we are, perform it at least in a whole week!

                      REFLECTION

                      I am going to begin this by reprinting two paragraphs of very
                      important qualifications from the last post on this chapter.

                      "I hasten to add a word of caution to Oblates here: the Holy Rule is
                      referring to choral Office in monasteries. To undertake for oneself
                      such an Office could well be unwise, and sometimes, even wrong. The
                      conditions of one's state in life come first. Oblates who are parents
                      or married have kept Vigils and Nocturns with sick children or
                      spouses of which professed monastics would never dream. Don't get
                      hung up on this one. SHARE the Office all you can, but tend first to
                      the responsibilities of your state in life.

                      Before I became a monk I used to OCCASIONALLY do all 150 Psalms
                      alone. There were two things worthy of mention here: I was a single
                      man with one (very loving!) cat, and I recited them. Even at that, I
                      can assure you it took up a chunk of time. Hence, Oblates should take
                      great care that they don't obsess on this notion. Do what you can and
                      rest assured that your community, and the Order and the whole praying
                      Church is "making up" whatever you can't offer."

                      A few years ago, the guesthouse well died (temporarily, thanks
                      be to God!) We had to gather 10 gallon plastic buckets for each
                      bathroom, haul them down the hill to the monastery in the station
                      wagon, fill them and bring them back. What a hassle! We also had to
                      caution the guests rather indelicately about no unnecessary
                      flushes. Even more recently, a storm
                      and left us without electricity for about twelve hours. Afraid to
                      open the fridge too much and with no oven, we ordered pizza in Athol
                      for the guests.

                      Both of these things were tough, but neither were anything compared
                      to the amount of labor required to maintain life in the first
                      centuries of the Order's existence. Neither were there lay brothers
                      to do all that work in those days, since they were a much later
                      development. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, no running water, no
                      phones, no Athol House of Pizza to call and no car to pick it up in.
                      (OK aqueducts in some places, but you get the picture...) In the
                      midst of a life that we would find crushingly different, St. Benedict
                      insisted on the weekly 150. Hmmmm......

                      We live in a world where countless labor-saving devices and perks
                      give us far more time than anyone in history has ever had. Are we
                      always good stewards of that abundance? Heaven knows, I don't want to
                      give up those modern advantages, look at how hooked on computers I
                      am. But what do we do with all that time? How much of the time we
                      save goes to prayer? How much goes to mindless stuff we could well do
                      without?


                      Love and prayers,
                      Jerome, OSB
                      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                      Petersham, MA
                       
                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                      +PAX Prayers for Ignacio, discerning a monastic vocation. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never
                      Message 10 of 22 , Feb 24
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                        Prayers for Ignacio, discerning a monastic vocation.
                         
                        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

                        February 25, June 26, October 26
                        Chapter 19: On the Manner of Saying the Divine Office

                        We believe that the divine presence is everywhere
                        and that "the eyes of the Lord
                        are looking on the good and the evil in every place" (Prov. 15:3).
                        But we should believe this especially without any doubt
                        when we are assisting at the Work of God.
                        To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words,
                        "Serve the Lord in fear" (Ps. 2:11)
                        and again "Sing praises wisely" (Ps. 46:8)
                        and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to You" (Ps.
                        137:1).
                        Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves
                        in sight of the Godhead and of His Angels,
                        and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way
                        that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.

                        REFLECTION

                        If there were any phrase I could carve on the walls of every choir in
                        the Order, it would be: "In the sight of the Angels I will sing
                        praise to You." It stresses not only the lofty character (and cast!)
                        of our sacrifices of praise, but also the demeanor we should have in
                        offering them.

                        The Presence of God that we miss so often should change our
                        demeanor. Students act differently (usually worse, alas...) for a substitute
                        teacher. Employees are different when the boss is off for the day.
                        These assortments of different behavior are pretty much shot through
                        the human condition, though not necessarily always a good idea.

                        The message here is no masks. Know Him in Whose presence and House
                        you are. But really KNOW Him.  God, like so many
                        things, is very Benedictine in His perfection, which stands between
                        the extremes in which we are prone to think of Him.

                        God is Parent and Creator and we are always creatures, but we are not
                        always children. We have to grow into the adult relationship with God
                        that fortunate children eventually share with their parents. (If we
                        never got to do this, and many haven't, establishing such honesty
                        with God may be a bit of a chore... Keep trying!)

                        As we grow in our knowledge of God, our behavior around Him (and we are
                        ALWAYS "around Him", that's another clear message of the Holy Rule!)
                        changes. It becomes more real and more natural. It changes with a
                        very clear eye to Who God is and who we are. It changes from
                        knowledge born of love and security.

                        Love and prayers,
                        Jerome, OSB
                        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                        Petersham, MA
                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                        +PAX Prayers, please, for unborn twin girls. one has water in her chest cavity which could be serious. Prayers for the eternal rest of Tracy and Rita, who
                        Message 11 of 22 , Feb 25
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                          Prayers, please, for unborn twin girls. one has water in her chest cavity which could be serious.
                          Prayers for the eternal rest of  Tracy and Rita, who passed recently and for their families and all who mourn them..

                          Prayers for JS, who needs a project and powers of descerment. has difficult decisions to make.
                          Prayers for Beverly, special intention.

                          Deo gratias. Arjahn for whom we've requested prayers for, has made a number of important life style changes that are helping him and he is much better. And Jimmy O. has a job at a place he loves and can be with his family.

                          Deo gratias for other prayers answered.
                           
                          Prayers for Tiki and Rae, on their birthday. May God fill them with graces.
                           
                          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

                          February 26, June 27, October 27
                          Chapter 20: On Reverence in Prayer

                          When we wish to suggest our wants to persons of high station,
                          we do not presume to do so
                          except with humility and reverence.
                          How much the more, then,
                          are complete humility and pure devotion necessary
                          in supplication of the Lord who is God of the universe!
                          And let us be assured
                          that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt
                          6:7),
                          but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction.
                          Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure,
                          unless it happens to be prolonged
                          by an inspiration of divine grace.
                          In community, however, let prayer be very short,
                          and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.

                          REFLECTION

                          There is a necessary tension in Benedictine prayer, both public and
                          private, between the awesome majesty and otherness of God and His
                          infinite closeness and approachability. God is among us. He is not
                          the guy next door, but neither is He some untouchable, easily
                          offended emperor or sultan. Both these truths must be addressed in
                          order to maintain a correct balance.

                          God doesn't need ceremony, He doesn't need anything. All the high
                          church in the world might (or might not...) tickle His fancy, but it
                          does not one whit for Him personally. The rub here is that WE need
                          what we offer to God, and that has been all too often forgotten in
                          the last 40 years or so. In a very real and subtle sense, we BECOME
                          what we offer to God, often quite unnoticed by ourselves.

                          The upshot of all this is clear: offer God the lowest possible common
                          denominator and that is what those offering will become; offer Him
                          empty and presumptuous high church and be not surprised when those
                          offering such things become rather pathetically silly themselves. In
                          fact, sad fact, either extreme will make people pathetically silly
                          and spiritually impoverished besides.

                          Balance, always balance! The Holy Rule says "our prayer should short
                          and pure." Fine, but the last part of that phrase has often gotten
                          lost in the struggles of reform. Just plain short doesn't get it. God
                          doesn't care about short, except insofar as it cheats us, those He
                          loves.

                          The balance of short AND pure will feed a normal soul well.
                          Hence, if you find liturgy in any given place leaves you at least
                          hungry and maybe starving, it's a safe guess that something might be
                          wrong. God is still served, but His people often are not. That should
                          upset both God and us.

                          A very Benedictine warning here that the Carmelites would strongly
                          approve: prayer is only to be prolonged by "inspiration of divine
                          grace." When God does let us feel something wonderful in prayer, a
                          very understandable temptation is to hang onto the feeling, to
                          prolong it, to produce it again.

                          Doesn't work, folks, and it could very well turn into a trap. When
                          God prolongs prayer or gives us graces, fine! Relax, swim in His
                          grace and enjoy it, but never, ever try to fill the pool for a quick
                          dip on your own. That's not the way prayer- or God- works.

                          Love and prayers,
                          Jerome,OSB
                          http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                          Petersham, MA
                        • Br. Jerome Leo
                          +PAX Prayers for baby Violet, 9 months, for who we prayed. She is at home now and her pneumonia has morphed into ear infections on both sides. Continued
                          Message 12 of 22 , Feb 26
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                            Prayers for baby Violet, 9 months, for who we prayed. She is at home now and her pneumonia has morphed into ear infections on both sides. Continued prayers for her and her parents and family.
                             
                            Prayers for Sara living with and caring for her elderly parents (dementia and other health problems), that her younger sister, who (with a brother) has power of attorney but does not actually care for them, will allow Sara to be present for upcoming visits of their mother with the physician. This has been an ongoing problem.

                            Also for Matthew, suffering brain cancer (recent surgery to relieve swelling). He is very bitter: his parents are requesting prayer for him to return to the sacraments.

                            Prayers for R, working hard but having difficulty reconciling himself to academic difficulties. He is a very strong Catholic young man with a regular sacramental and prayer life, but at this time, he is down and rather depressed. Prayers may be in order for him to discern God's will for him both academically and vocationally, and for his peace of mind.

                            For D, desperately unhappy at work and needing a change. His age is clearly affecting the job search.

                            For Maria, applying for new jobs that make better use of her talent, education, and energies
                            Prayers for Fr. Brendan's brother, John, who went in to the emergency room last night with  chest pains. The ER staff did x-rays, etc. and shot dye into the heart,  and he has some blockages.It is unknown exactly how much blockage there  is, whether he only needs stents or whether he has to undergo open heart surgery. Special prayers for John;'s wife, who is beside herself, and for Fr. Brendan.. Please storm heaven's gates that all goes well!
                             
                            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

                            February 27, June 28, October 28
                            Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery

                            If the community is a large one, let there be chosen out of it
                            brethren of good repute and holy life, and let them be appointed
                            deans. These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,
                            observing the commandments of God and the instructions of their
                            Abbot.

                            Let men of such character be chosen deans that the Abbot may with
                            confidence share his burdens among them. Let them be chosen not by
                            rank but according to their worthiness of life and the wisdom of
                            their doctrine.

                            If any of these deans should become inflated with pride and found
                            deserving of censure,
                            let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time. If he will
                            not amend, then let him be deposed and another be put in his place
                            who is worthy of it.

                            And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.

                            REFLECTION

                            Did anyone read this as I did at first, many years ago, and
                            wonder: "Why did St. Benedict give them an academic name
                            like "deans"? Well, maybe it was  the other way around! Since the
                            first schools were monastic ones, it is quite likely that the
                            term "dean" entered academia via the Holy Rule!

                            Surely the academic gown of today is a modified form of our
                            Benedictine choir robe, the cowl or cuculla. In fact, Benedictines
                            used to wear their cucullas with the appropriate academic hoods as
                            their formal dress at graduations and the like. With all due respect
                            to the johnny-come-latelies like the Dominicans, Franciscans and
                            Jesuits, when they don full academic regalia, they're wearing a
                            derived form of our choir habit!

                            But, enough of trivia...This chapter repeats another important
                            consideration in St. Benedict's plan: people are not to be
                            overburdened. This theme is less noticeable than the more important
                            ones of moderation and the like, but it is there. Again and again,
                            the Holy Rule says that people should have help with their charges,
                            certain officials should even be exempted from serving in the
                            refectory.

                            Two things are going on here, both very important. Surely the first
                            is kindness, gentle consideration for human frailty. The second,
                            however, is every bit as defining and important: we are not our
                            work, we are not our jobs, our vocation and worth is only connected
                            to such things tangentially at best. Our motto is Prayer AND Work. The
                            message is that neither of these should make the other impossible.

                            This message is equally important for both choir monastics and
                            Oblates. If your work is so much that your prayer suffers,
                            something is wrong. However, especially true for those of us in the
                            secular world, if your prayer is so much that your job or children
                            or marriage suffers, something is REALLY wrong. If your work
                            deprives your family or spouse, it might be time to look at
                            changing it, time to rearrange goals and priorities a bit.

                            One of the occasional problems of modern life everywhere is not
                            just that we are too busy, but that we FOCUS too much attachment
                            and will on stuff that really doesn't matter. Change that focus.
                            Picture your job today if you had died yesterday. The important
                            stuff would still get done by someone else. The rest, your own
                            agenda, would go merrily down the tubes.

                            Well, learn from that! A LOT of our own agendas are worth little
                            more than that: going down the tubes. So why waste so much time and
                            spiritual and emotional energy on them? As it does so frequently,
                            the Holy Rule and Benedictine life tell us: "Get real!"

                            Train yourself to learn what NOT to
                            care about at all, what does not, and should not matter one bit.
                            That is the detachment that is truly holy. It is not all that hard
                            to learn, either, if one keeps at it and asks God for His grace,
                            without which we can do
                            nothing good.

                            Love and prayers,
                            Jerome, OSB
                            http://www.stmarysmonastery.org/
                            Petersham, MA
                          • Br. Jerome Leo
                            +PAX Prayers for Lynn, 50, diabetes and stomach problems, going to see the doctor, and for John, her husband and for Jeffery and Janet, her son and daughter.
                            Message 13 of 22 , Feb 27
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                              Prayers for Lynn, 50, diabetes and stomach problems, going to see the doctor, and for John, her husband and for Jeffery and Janet, her son and daughter.
                               
                              Prayers for Ignacio, special needs for prayers.
                               
                              Prayers for the eternal rest of the soul of Cindy, who died last night after fighting cancer for 2 years, Prayers, too, for her family, her husband needs extra prayers.
                              Prayers for a father who has a caustic tongue with remarks to daughters, and for his daughters.
                               
                              Prayers for Teresa, incurable liver problems.
                               
                              Prayers for Jacob, special intentions
                               
                              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

                              February 28, June 29, October 29
                              Chapter 22: How the Sisters Are to Sleep

                              Let each one sleep in a separate bed. Let them receive bedding
                              suitable to their manner of life, according to the Abbess's
                              directions. If possible let all sleep in one place; but if the
                              number does not allow this, let them take their rest by tens or
                              twenties with the seniors who have charge of them.

                              A candle shall be kept burning in the room until morning.

                              Let them sleep clothed and girded with belts or cords -- but not
                              with their knives at their sides, lest they cut themselves in their
                              sleep -- and thus be always ready to rise without delay when the
                              signal is given and hasten to be before one another at the Work of
                              God,
                              yet with all gravity and decorum.

                              The younger shall not have beds next to one another, but among
                              those of the older ones.

                              When they rise for the Work of God let them gently encourage one
                              another, that the drowsy may have no excuse.

                              REFLECTION

                              Hastening "yet will all gravity and decorum" has prompted many a
                              community joke, many a wry comment as one ran most ungracefully,
                              parts of the habit flapping wildly in the breeze, to whatever the
                              bell was about to make one late for! St. Benedict far antedates the
                              Three Stooges, but he still took precautions to ensure that we
                              would not look EXACTLY like Moe, Larry and Curly when we went to
                              choir or dinner! Admittedly, some of our human tendency still
                              arises to give a partial glimpse of that comedic trio, but, as
                              always, the picture is
                              balanced!

                              In the dormitory, the elderly may have problems during the
                              night if their health is declining. Hale and hearty (and hopefully
                              easily awakened!) juniors nearby promise them assistance, if
                              needed. Of course, if you want a humorous take on the knives issue,
                              it may have been to prevent mayhem and murder of snorers, an idea
                              which has occurred to many light sleepers!

                              Dormitory sleeping is a thing of the past in our Order
                              today, but its nice to see that thoughtfulness behind its original
                              expression in the Holy Rule. There's a bit of the mother in St.
                              Benedict, going out of his way to mention a small detail like not
                              sleeping with knives. It is worthy of note, however, that St.
                              Benedict, as always is MODERATELY maternal, not neurotically so! He
                              doesn't get all bent out of shape, but he cares greatly and deeply.

                              One of the most beautiful images in this passage is the exhortation
                              to "gently encourage one another" at the hour of rising. Remember
                              that the strictest silence of all prevailed at this time. Now
                              picture the monastics gently encouraging one another! With no
                              words, there
                              had to be a lot of touch, a lot of gentle smiles, a lot of warmth
                              and care expressed NON-verbally.

                              A very good idea of how loving a monastic is can be had by
                              disturbing their silence (or sleep, I imagine!!) Is the reaction
                              cross and withering? Watch out for that one! Is there a smile, even
                              a warm one, a reaction of sweetness? Well, when silence is over,
                              that is a
                              monastic to whose words you may want to listen carefully.


                              Love and prayers,
                              Jerome, OSB
                              http://www.stmarysmonastery.org/
                              Petersham, MA
                              .
                            • Br. Jerome Leo
                              +PAX In non-Leap years, this reading is sent out with Feb. 28th. February 29, June 30, October 30 Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults If a brother is
                              Message 14 of 22 , Feb 27
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                                In non-Leap years, this reading is sent out with Feb. 28th.
                                 
                                February 29, June 30, October 30
                                Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults

                                If a brother is found to be obstinate,
                                or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
                                or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
                                and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
                                the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
                                as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
                                If he fails to amend,
                                let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
                                But if even then he does not reform,
                                let him be placed under excommunication,
                                provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
                                if he is perverse, however,
                                let him undergo corporal punishment.

                                REFLECTION

                                It is sad, indeed, that a chapter like this ever had to be written,
                                sad in St. Benedict's time, sad in our own. How little human beings
                                change in some ways! Why on earth would anyone come to a monastic
                                struggle with an attitude that says: "I know better. I'm right and
                                they're wrong."? Why would anyone persist in staying with such an
                                attitude?

                                Because they are blind. It's another favorite trick of Satan.
                                Blurred or clouded assessments of the reality at hand are his forte.
                                Especially when these phony lenses get applied to religious matters,
                                the obstinacy and self-righteousness can go to extremes.

                                Look, beloveds, every single one of us, from the newest Oblate
                                candidate to the Abbot Primate, came to the monastic life, to the
                                Holy Rule, to be CHANGED. We came to learn, not to teach. We came to
                                reform ourselves, not the monastery. We not only arrived with that
                                attitude, we must keep it all of our lives. We came to surrender,
                                not to demand.

                                That's why this chapter is both so very sad and so very important.
                                The monastic at any point in life who has renounced that attitude of
                                discipleship has abandoned the struggle. We must hope it is a
                                temporary abandonment, because it can be fatal to one's vocation. It
                                can undo all the good work we have behind us. It can delude us into
                                thinking we are persevering when we have actually long ago quit.

                                Superiors and community (or family!) can be a big reality check here
                                and that is what this chapter seeks to provide. Gentleness, love and
                                tact are in order, but something must be done. One must be very
                                careful at such times not to lord it over another smugly. But one
                                must also be very careful not to do nothing at all, especially if
                                one is in authority. The risk to the falling member is too great to
                                ignore.

                                If, alas, you find yourself to be that falling member, for heaven's
                                sake (quite literally!) LISTEN. That is such a Benedictine trait,
                                our Holy Rule begins with that word. If others are that upset, there may
                                well be something wrong. Don't deny it. Check it out with all the
                                humility you can muster, but be very aware that your humility may
                                well be the thing that is currently terribly impaired. Be as honest
                                as truthful as you can. Try, try with all your strength, to let
                                yourself always be changed for the good, and strive to see that
                                good, even when it is hard.

                                If you are one of the lucky ones not in this leaking boat, be deeply
                                humbled and grateful to God. Pray every day for all of those in the
                                Order, the Church, the world, who are sinking. They need our prayers
                                badly. Think how different the Titanic might have been with enough
                                lifeboats...

                                Love and prayers,
                                Jerome, OSB
                                http://www.stmarysmonastery.org/
                                Petersham, MA
                              • Br. Jerome Leo
                                +PAX Prayers for the eternal rest of my Dad, Jerome, on the anniversary of his death. He actually died on Leap Year Day, so I remember him on the day after the
                                Message 15 of 22 , Feb 28
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                                  Prayers for the eternal rest of my Dad, Jerome, on the anniversary of his death. He actually died on Leap Year Day, so I remember him on the day after the 28th of Feb.
                                   
                                  Prayers, please, for Paul, long history of depression not responding to treatment, has been suicidal lately.
                                   
                                  Please pray for Susan,Dominic and Louis, that they thay may find a home when they have to leave their late grandmother's house. Look kindly on their plight, dear, Lord.
                                   
                                  Prayers for M., suffering from obsessive/compulsive disorder.
                                   
                                  Prayers for Patrick, unable to work for over a year now due to health problems. He is in dire financial need now. Prayers for his health and his finances, that God heal and support him.
                                  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

                                  March 1, July 1, October 31
                                  Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be

                                  The measure of excommunication or of chastisement should correspond
                                  to the degree of fault, which degree is estimated by the judgment
                                  of the Abbess.

                                  If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults, let her be excluded
                                  from the common table. Now the program for one deprived of the
                                  company of the table shall be as follows: In the oratory she shall
                                  intone neither Psalm nor antiphon nor shall she recite a lesson
                                  until she has made satisfaction; in the refectory she shall take
                                  her food alone after the community meal,
                                  so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance, that sister
                                  shall eat at the ninth,
                                  while if they eat at the ninth hour she shall eat in the evening,
                                  until by a suitable satisfaction she obtains pardon.

                                  REFLECTION

                                  Let's face it, St. Benedict has a lot to say about excommunication-
                                  a clumsy term, perhaps, because people often assume it means
                                  excommunication from the Church, which is the only sense of the
                                  word we commonly have today. It does not, of course mean that, just
                                  a punishment of exclusion from certain community functions.

                                  Let's face something else, at least in this chapter. Fasting an
                                  extra three hours might not be lovely, but no intoning in choir?
                                  What bad news! Gosh... Even many of us who CAN sing would look at
                                  that as a nice break!

                                  And eating alone? Well, the extra fast was a drag, but I sure
                                  missed that reader and the tedious book we've been reading.
                                  What awful luck!

                                  See the difference in perception a millennium or so can make? That
                                  may be a large part of why the penal code is not followed today:
                                  some of its punishments simply make little sense to modern
                                  monastics, some seem mean, and others (as above,) seem like
                                  downright vacations.

                                  The rest of this applies with great ease to family situations,
                                  marital situations and the workplace. Something must be gleaned
                                  from all this legislation for punishment: the one at fault must be
                                  told when something is wrong. That, after all, is the only reason
                                  for punishment, to be a wake up call to the less than brilliant.

                                  Unfortunately, the monastic hatred of personal confrontation
                                  endemic in our ranks assumes
                                  sufficient brilliance for all to sooner or later figure out that
                                  they are amiss. It just ain't so, folks, sorry! Things fester when
                                  they go ignored for years. Things that someone should have dealt
                                  with gently, but firmly and even summarily, in formation or
                                  childhood, torture the family in later years.

                                  Look, it is hard, VERY hard, to confront a predictably stubborn or
                                  difficult child or monastic or spouse or employee.
                                  It's easy to see why one would rather not do so. But the Holy Rule
                                  asks many things that are difficult of us, and this one is
                                  unquestionably
                                  for the good of all, both the offender and the offended. The false
                                  charity that omits to make
                                  these difficult corrections goes a long way to making everyone's
                                  life awful in the future.

                                  Also, in workplace especially, bear in mind that the authority
                                  figure here is the abbot, not the rank and file. One dare not
                                  assume all those prerogatives as a peer and equal. Fraternal
                                  correction will get a mention of its own later on, but it is not a
                                  mantle to be assumed lightly. We must beware of the other extreme:
                                  becoming universal policing agents for all and sundry. A tiny spark
                                  of Gestapo flickers in many human hearts. Do nothing
                                  to fan the flame!

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

                                • Br. Jerome Leo
                                  +PAX Prayers, please, for our Br. Bernard, in the hospital with problems from his epilepsy. Prayers, please, for Aaron, suffering from depression, and for his
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Mar 1 2:58 PM
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                                    Prayers, please, for our Br. Bernard, in the hospital with problems from his epilepsy.
                                     
                                    Prayers, please, for Aaron, suffering from depression, and for his daughter and parents.
                                     
                                    Prayers for Fr. Nadeem, on his birthday, graces galore and many more. Ad multos annos!
                                     
                                    Prayers for Chand, suffering badly from homesickness.
                                     
                                    Prayers for all Christians in danger in Iraq, especially for a group allegedly about to be martyred by decapitation, and for those who persecute them.
                                     
                                    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!
                                     
                                    March 2, July 2, November 1
                                    Chapter 25: On Weightier Faults

                                    Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault be excluded both
                                    from the table and from the oratory. Let none of the brethren join
                                    him either for company or for conversation.
                                    Let him be alone at the work assigned him, abiding in penitential
                                    sorrow and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle where he
                                    says that a man of that kind is handed over
                                    for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in
                                    the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). Let him take his meals alone in
                                    the measure and at the hour which the Abbot shall consider suitable
                                    for him. He shall not be blessed by those who pass by, nor shall
                                    the food that is given him be blessed.

                                    REFLECTION

                                    Justice demands that the punishment fit the crime, and St. Benedict
                                    gives the two points between which a spectrum of other methods may
                                    be employed. He does not want a one-size-fits-all system of
                                    correction and clearly says so more than once.

                                    Think of any parent or authority figure you have ever heard
                                    criticized. If punishment was in any way involved, it is most
                                    likely that the fault was in doing too much or too little. A cruel
                                    person can make employees or children or monastics live in terror.
                                    Punishment is relentless and swift and often comes without warning.

                                    This may result in slavish compliance or outright rebellion, but it
                                    never results in a healthy self, for authority or subject. We are
                                    not called to live in dread of unwittingly angering some
                                    intransigent despot, whose whims may be dangerous, indeed. We are
                                    called to live in peace and mercy: to receive it and to give it to others. That is
                                    true of all monastics, superiors and those governed.

                                    But we are not called to peace at any price whatsoever, which is
                                    the fault of those who do too little to correct. Fear of the
                                    governed is as stupid and pointless as fear of the governor and
                                    neither helps anyone. While too much control may lead the community
                                    to fear the Abbess, too little will leave them equally afraid of each other!

                                    Note carefully that the missing ingredients in either extreme are
                                    love, real charity, as well as a trusting prayer for grace and
                                    guidance. If we are not showing His love to all, something is very wrong.
                                    If mercy does not temper justice (and justice does not temper total inaction!)
                                    something is quite amiss.

                                    Really peaceful people do not avoid confrontation at all costs, if
                                    they do, even they will never have peace. They will have nothing
                                    more than an uneasy truce or more or less perpetual fear. That is not
                                    the loving way to deal with a problem.

                                    The Benedictine way is, as usual, the middle way. Some would put
                                    down the middle way, call it weak, but, as we have seen, it takes a
                                    tremendous amount of guts and grace to do it well. Our way is quite
                                    the reverse of a cop-out: it requires genuine courage and grace, to
                                    say nothing of its chief component, a lot of very frank and
                                    truthful LOVE! Ah, yes, and that mercy which is a mirror of the
                                    Divine Mercy, too!

                                    Love and prayers,
                                    Jerome, OSB
                                    http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                                    Petersham, MA
                                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                                    +PAX Prayers, please, for Jacob, for a good job. Prayers for C., special intention. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best. All is mercy
                                    Message 17 of 22 , Mar 2 3:11 PM
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                                      Prayers, please, for Jacob, for a good job.
                                       
                                      Prayers for C., special intention.
                                       
                                      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

                                      March 3, July 3, November 2
                                      Chapter 26: On Those Who Without an Order Associate with the
                                      Excommunicated

                                      If any sister presumes without an order from the Abbess to
                                      associate in any way with an excommunicated sister, or to speak
                                      with her, or to send her a message, let her incur a similar
                                      punishment of excommunication.

                                      REFLECTION

                                      When punishment is necessary, the community should support it, at
                                      least passively. This united front should be far different from the
                                      human tendency we often see to abandon those in trouble. Quite the
                                      reverse, like everything in the Holy Rule, this must be fueled by
                                      the concern born of love.Times of crisis like this should awaken us to the
                                      necessary depth of love for all.

                                      Hard though it may sometimes be, we may not rejoice at the downfall
                                      of another. We must participate in common punishments because they
                                      are for the good of all, but also because they are primarily for
                                      the good of the offender, whom we must love. Admittedly, sometimes
                                      the only way one can express that concern is prayer, but we must
                                      pray!

                                      Sometimes, both superiors and communities can have an inordinate
                                      fear of giving punishment. What if she leaves? Yeah, what if....?
                                      Maybe she is supposed to leave, maybe this is God's way of telling
                                      her something about herself that she cannot see. Some people who
                                      really, truly do NOT belong in monastic life cannot be convinced of
                                      this.

                                      Some find the Rule harsh in this respect, but there is a great love
                                      and mercy here. The Holy Rule forbids what many people in groups
                                      will do: passive aggression. We cannot just wordlessly force the
                                      person out without a clue as to why.

                                      Punishment must be named and specific, the offender must know and
                                      those around her must care. It may in fact force a monk out, but he
                                      will know why when he leaves. This is vastly different from the
                                      ordinary human means of exclusion and expulsion. It includes grace.
                                      It includes love. Lots of love! And its justice is always somehow
                                      wrapped in mercy.

                                      Love and prayers,
                                      Jerome, OSB
                                      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                                      Petersham, MA
                                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                                      +PAX Please pray for the eternal rest of Brian s friend and former co-worker Shawn. He has lost his battle with a brain tumor. Please also pray for his wife,
                                      Message 18 of 22 , Mar 3 3:17 PM
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                                        Please pray for the eternal rest of Brian's friend and former co-worker Shawn. He has lost his battle with a brain tumor. Please also pray for his wife, Elaine, their three children, and all who love him and mourn his loss, especially Brian.
                                         
                                        Please pray for Linda's close friend, Kathie, who has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and for her family and all her friends, especially Linda.
                                         
                                        For E. P.,  please pray to help him fight his battle with depression , drugs and alcohol.
                                         
                                        Prayers for Robert, for strength in his faith.
                                         
                                        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

                                        March 4, July 4, November 3
                                        Chapter 27: How Solicitous the Abbot Should Be for the Excommunicated


                                        Let the Abbot be most solicitous
                                        in his concern for delinquent brethren,
                                        for "it is not the healthy but the sick who need a physician" (Matt
                                        9:12)
                                        And therefore he ought to use every means
                                        that a wise physician would use.
                                        Let him send senpectae,
                                        that is, brethren of mature years and wisdom,
                                        who may as it were secretly console the wavering brother
                                        and induce him to make humble satisfaction;
                                        comforting him
                                        that he may not "be overwhelmed by excessive grief" (2 Cor. 2:7),
                                        but that, as the Apostle says,
                                        charity may be strengthened in him (2 Cor. 2:8).
                                        And let everyone pray for him.

                                        For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude
                                        and exercise all prudence and diligence
                                        lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him.
                                        Let him know
                                        that what he has undertaken is the care of weak souls
                                        and not a tyranny over strong ones;
                                        and let him fear the Prophet's warning
                                        through which God says,
                                        "What you saw to be fat you took to yourselves,
                                        and what was feeble you cast away" (Ezec. 34:3,4).
                                        Let him rather imitate the loving example of the Good Shepherd
                                        who left the ninety-nine sheep in the mountains
                                        and went to look for the one sheep that had gone astray,
                                        on whose weakness He had such compassion
                                        that He deigned to place it on His own sacred shoulders
                                        and thus carry it back to the flock (Luke 15:4-5).

                                        REFLECTION

                                        Here it is. The good part to all this penal code, the loving Father!
                                        If you remember the Prologue, the kindness and enthusiastic, loving
                                        zeal that St. Benedict showed there, you will find the more difficult
                                        things he has to write easier to read: because you will see them
                                        always through the lens of his loving concern, his gentle compassion.
                                        In this chapter, that compassion has full rein! This will have a lot
                                        to say to parents and others in authority, too.

                                        Notice at once the difference between Benedictine punishment and the
                                        penal system of the world- in Benedict's day and our own. The secular,
                                        warehousing view of punishment gives little more than idle lip-service to
                                        rehabilitation or genuine conversion. It is pretty much reducible to
                                        punishment for its own sake, a fact that should leave us far less than
                                        surprised at its ineffectiveness. It fails because it does not love
                                        the offender, nor seek to heal. Offenders are quick to grasp this fact.

                                        Benedictine punishment has no reason OTHER than healing, conversion
                                        and love. This chapter makes that perfectly clear. It is a collective
                                        human striving to better image the perfect will of God, Who "desires not
                                        the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live." Its
                                        entire rationale is love for and healing of the erring monastic.

                                        I find it interesting that St. Benedict does not stress in these
                                        preceding chapters the harm done to a community in dealing with
                                        offenses. Obviously, it sometimes happens that all are harmed, or at
                                        least shaken by one's actions. It would have been easy enough to
                                        include this as a rationale for punishment, even as a secondary one,
                                        but he does not. It leaves us with a pure view of loving concern for
                                        the guilty one.

                                        Look at the senpectae- the old, wise ones St. Benedict would send, as
                                        it were "secretly" to console the afflicted one. They are a cherished
                                        monastic tradition, because they point clearly to the kindness
                                        involved in the whole process. In a sense, St. Benedict is telling
                                        the Abbess to play an acceptable form of "good-cop-bad-cop" to help
                                        the guilty one to conversion, to a return to spiritual health.

                                        We confuse the stewardship of authority with the selfishness
                                        of mere power. St. Benedict urges us to never do that, because
                                        he knows it will fail. Love, only love and the mercy which attends
                                        it triumphs! Mercy and love burnish the image of God in ourselves
                                        to a wondrous sheen. So polish up, folks, polish up!

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



                                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                                        PS: Br. Bernard is home from the hospital. Thanks to all who prayed!
                                        Message 19 of 22 , Mar 3 3:22 PM
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                                          PS: Br. Bernard is home from the hospital. Thanks to all who prayed!
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