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Apr 7

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Jane and for her Mom, Peg, who is hospitalized with pneumonia and has chronic respiratory complications; also for Michael and for his
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7, 2003

      Prayers, please, for Jane and for her Mom, Peg, who is hospitalized
      with pneumonia and has chronic respiratory complications; also for
      Michael and for his aunt, Alice, who died yesterday. Special prayers
      for someone who in the early stages of reconciliation with his
      Church. Thanks so much! God's will be done! NRN JL

      April 7, August 7, December 7
      Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

      Let clothing be given to the brethren
      according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
      and its climate;
      for in cold regions more will be needed,
      and in warm regions less.
      This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.

      We believe, however, that in ordinary places
      the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
      a tunic,
      a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
      a scapular for work,
      stockings and shoes to cover the feet.

      The monks should not complain
      about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
      but be content with what can be found
      in the district where they live and
      can be purchased cheaply.

      The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
      that they be not too short for those who wear them,
      but of the proper fit.

      Let those who receive new clothes
      always give back the old ones at once,
      to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
      For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
      to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
      more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
      Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
      when they receive new ones.

      Those who are sent on a journey
      shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
      which they shall wash and restore on their return.
      And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
      than what they usually wear.
      These they shall receive from the wardrobe
      when they set out on a journey,
      and restore when they return.


      Well, I could write another love song to the habit, and I surely do
      love it, but there is an issue here for all who are outside the
      cloister, yet still with the monastic struggle. Clothes do not make
      the monastic, but they do set up some very potent markers, for good
      or ill. The Benedictine job is to find the golden mean, avoiding

      Some of my happier younger days were spent in Pittsburgh, with Amos
      House Catholic Worker (now defunct,) and the Thomas Merton Center. My
      friend Ellen (who gets this reflection daily,) and I had a theory,
      shared by some other activists about how one should dress for anti-
      nuclear and peace demonstrations. We dressed preppie all the way:
      Oxford cloth, button down collars, khaki chinos and loafers. Let me
      assure you that prep is never out of style and that it is always
      available very cheaply at thrift stores! A lot of clothing mileage
      for the money!

      We did that because of a strong sense that people needed to see
      themselves on the other side of the line in order to identify with
      the cause. Middle America will often discount at once people whose
      attire screams alternative/radical at first glance. One's clothing
      sends a message, fair or not. The message it sends may very well
      advance or inhibit any subsequent messages one my try to send.

      Sometimes lay people who are intensely religious will go overboard in
      what can only be called frumpiness in dress. Bad move! Right or
      wrong, our society writes off frumpiness at first glance. The odds of
      being a witness who is heard are diminished. We should want our
      appearance to suggest that Jesus Christ is WORTH turning to, not that
      we are simply damned fools with no fashion sense.

      Simple, decent, clean, middle-of-the-road clothing is a goal
      virtually any Oblate can attain. Not too flashy and costly, but
      neither so tacky or beyond the fringe that it invokes scorn. The
      cheaper the better, but not just for stinge!

      The clothing industry in the West rides roughshod on the backs of a
      LOT of oppressed people in the less developed countries. Buying your
      good clothes used may not stop those awful practices, but it will at
      least stop your direct complicity in them. Buy a used $45 shirt at a
      Salvation Army Thrift Store and your $5 or less will actually go
      towards helping someone in need, not just perpetuating that need.
      Think how you look, but think very carefully of where your money goes.

      A further little fussy word here. Beware of labels that show OUTSIDE.
      I speak as one who used to love buying used shirts with Ralph
      Lauren's polo player emblazoned on the breast. Sigh... It is not
      written on your forehead that you bought it used and it shouts pricey
      to all and sundry. Conspicuous consumption rides on visible labels
      like that, and you could be adding to a fire you'd rather extinguish.
      Great clothes, TONS of wear for 4 or 5 dollars, but no labels. As a
      monk, I became embarrassed to wear such things. It sent the wrong
      message entirely.

      Lastly, almost everyone I know could make do with less clothes. We
      pack a lot of consumerist variety into those closets of ours and that
      sends a message, too. Always remember that the coat in our
      chest "belongs to the poor," as one of the Eastern Fathers said. (I
      think it was St. Basil, but it might have been St. John Chrysostom.
      Anyone help me out with this one??)

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