Holy Rule for Apr. 5
Carol, for whom we have been prayed, has gone to God, for her happy death
and eternal rest and for all who mourn her, including her childhood friend,
Joan, who was away in another state caring for Betty, her sister, who broke her
hip. Prayers, too, for Betty to accept her situation and work with Joan to
become more independent in her recovery.
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Bob, who had been diagnosed
with cancer and was beginning to suffer greatly. His death was probably a
reaction to medication. He seems to have had no personal relationship with God,
so special prayers for that and for his son, who has no faith, and for his
niece and sister who have been praying for him, and for all who mourn 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
April 5, August 5, December 5
Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests
Let there be a separate kitchen for the Abbot and guests,
that the brethren may not be disturbed when guests,
who are never lacking in a monastery,
arrive at irregular hours.
Let two brethren capable of filling the office well
be appointed for a year to have charge of this kitchen.
Let them be given such help as they need,
that they may serve without murmuring.
And on the other hand,
when they have less to occupy them,
let them go out to whatever work is assigned them.
And not only in their case
but in all the offices of the monastery
let this arrangement be observed,
that when help is needed it be supplied,
and again when the workers are unoccupied
they do whatever they are bidden.
The guest house also shall be assigned to a brother
whose soul is possessed by the fear of God.
Let there be a sufficient number of beds made up in it;
and let the house of God be managed by prudent men
and in a prudent manner.
On no account shall anyone who is not so ordered
associate or converse with guests.
But if he should meet them or see them,
let him greet them humbly, as we have said,
ask their blessing and pass on,
saying that he is not allowed to converse with a guest.
It is the last paragraph which strikes me. Most monasteries no longer
enforce it strictly, thankfully. However, it brings to mind a rule of
thumb that may be applied in other situations.
Like any rule of thumb, there may be exceptions, but watch the
reactions of monastics whose silence or enclosure is intruded upon
very carefully. You can learn a lot about the monastic in question
When the reaction makes the guest (who, after all, probably didn't
know any better,) feel dirty or small or terribly wrong, you can
safely guess that the monastic in question has a lot of growing up to
do. File that info any way you like, but I'd give her a LOT of
room...I'd smile sweetly when I had to and then give her a very wide
berth! I have never seen a truly holy and wise monastic react in such
a way, never. Watch out for the pursed lips and narrowed eyes, the
shaming attitude, the evident disgust. None of these things are
monastic traits. All of them are signs that a lot of further work is
Silence and enclosure are very effective tools, but they are means to an
end. They can never be ends in themselves. The holy use of these
tools is quite likely to produce wonderful results, but their unholy
use can be just as likely to stall progress and growth outright.
Both, unfortunately, lend themselves all too well to a perversion of
their good. (Satan loves that kind of trick!) Both silence and enclosure
can play right into the stultifying neuroses of the worst kind. People
can protect themselves with them in order to remain incapable of relationship
or communication. A wise superior or formation director can nip that
mistaken notion in the bud, but, alas, not all members of either
class are wise.
Enclosure can be all too easily used as a weapon. Every abbess is
called upon to respect individual weaknesses to a point, but watch
out for a community wherein some Sisters are VERY enclosed and others
hardly at all. Silence can be a big help to recollection, but I feel
a lot more comfortable with a community that can generate
considerable joyous noise when the occasion arises. People whispering
all the time in every place do not provoke a sense of home in
themselves, much less so in others.
Look at the many Desert Father and Mother accounts of guests arriving
unexpectedly. The elder dropped fast, silence and everything,
entertaining with gratitude and evident cheer. Now and then one sees
a different response, a very cold response, when the elder KNOWS the
intentions of the guest are flawed, but we rarely know such things
We are called to bear all things, ALL things sweetly and without a lot
of fuss. That does not mean we have to like them, merely that we have
to be cheerful about them and hide our displeasure. We must accept,
rather than undergo, a wonderful principle from Dom Jean-Marie Dechanet, OSB,
in his book on Christian Yoga.
There is probably a good deal more grace in the smiling acceptance
of an annoyance than there would be in lofty, untrammeled, silent prayer.
If there were not, God, Who is always merciful and generous, would never have
allowed the opportunity to come to us. What we make of its potential
boon is our own affair and, sometimes, our own maturity, as well.
Love and prayers,
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