More detail than usual- these are unusual prayer requests and I think
it will help. For Sal, 48, very advanced ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease,
now colon cancer. He has two teenagers and his wife died two years
ago at 43. For a terribly messy divorce. Wife has already had one
annulment, so very unlikely she (or the husband in this case,) will
ever get another one. Very tough for all the family., Also for Dave,
who will need surgery for and esophageal abnormality, and for Melinda
and her Mom and husband. She has deep mania and has filed for divorce.
Please note that I get so many requests that I might not always be
able to reply to yours. Sometimes the only "reply" I can pull off is
to mention the needs in the next Holy Rule. Hope you will understand.
Thanks! God's will be done! NRN JL
April 14, August 14, December 14
Chapter 60: On Priests Who May Wish to Live in the Monastery
If any ordained priest
should ask to be received into the monastery,
permission shall not be granted too readily.
But if he is quite persistent in his request,
let him know
that he will have to observe the whole discipline of the Rule
and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor,
that it may be as it is written:
"Friend, for what have you come (Matt. 26:50)?"
It shall be granted him, however, to stand next after the Abbot
and to give blessings and to celebrate Mass,
but only by order of the Abbot.
Without such order let him not make any exceptions for himself,
knowing that he is subject to the discipline of the Rule;
but rather let him give an example of humility to all.
If there happens to be question of an appointment
or of some business in the monastery,
let him expect the rank due him
according to the date of his entrance into the monastery,
and not the place granted him
out of reverence for the priesthood.
If any clerics, moved by the same desire,
should wish to join the monastery,
let them be placed in a middle rank.
But they too are to be admitted only if they promise
observance of the Rule and stability.
My late friend, Bob Deaton, was very close to one of Franklin Delano
Roosevelt's sons. One day, as he was talking with his friend's wife,
about Eleanor Roosevelt, she said to him: "You know, Bob, to you
she's Eleanor Roosevelt, but to me she's my mother-in-law." Sad, but
true. Familiarity can breed contempt, or at the very least, diminish
This is so very true of priests and religious. The daily closeness of
God can let us get lazy, used to Him. Just as spouses can learn to
pay little or less attention to one another over years, so can we. I
fear, because of the very unique sacramental relationship involved,
this is an even greater danger for priests.
An unfortunate truth about ecclestiastical politics and priestly
ambition, both in St. Benedict's time and in our own, is that it
allows, even rather encourages a savvy that will advance one, but not
in piety! A dichotomy often exists between getting ahead and getting
holy and few manage to pull off both.
Think of the holiest priests you have known. That daily contact has
increased their awe and deepened their humility and love. It can,
after all, go either way. St. Benedict wanted to do all he could to
ensure that shallow ambition and priesthood without piety would not
be welcome in his monasteries. Sadly, there are priests- and nuns and
brothers!- who have ignored his precautions.
That message about ambition is for all of us. All. I have had the
sadness of knowing monastic men and women who made their lives and
vocations a virtual joke in the pursuit of power, ambition, control
and rank. What a waste. Actually, when one looks objectively at being
a big fish in such terribly small ponds, it becomes pathetically
tragic. So much lost for so very little, in fact, for nothing but
illusion and lies.
There is only one place a monastic should fight and struggle to get
or keep and that is the bottom. If you aren't there yet, keep trying.
If you are, cherish and esteem it and cling to it for dear life. It
is the true and only place of privilege, it is the selfless place of
Christ. Those holding it are often completely written off and scorned
by their comrades. Happy are they! The littlest way of the meekly
least is much, much safer and better! And trust me, beloveds, some
ignorance truly *IS* bliss, so learn to look on the shenanigans of
the powerful with the puzzled, non-envious innocence of a child.
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA