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Holy Rule for June 10

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers and Deo gratias for Jeanette, received as an Oblate novice in her home. She is terminally ill, unless she can get a lung transplant, also for Fr.
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 9, 2007
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      +PAX

      Prayers and Deo gratias for Jeanette, received as an Oblate novice in her home. She is terminally ill, unless she can get a lung transplant, also for Fr. Rod, who received her, and for her husband and for her two sons, both in the military.

      Evalyn, whom we prayed ofr during her cancer surgery, has had to go back to the hosiptal due to clots and complications, prayers for her and her family, please. Prayers for a special intention for someone with serious family and financial problems. 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

      [This portion seems to beg for division into two parts, so I have done
      that in the reflection.]

      February 9, June 10, October 10
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The twelfth degree of humility
      is that a monk not only have humility in his heart
      but also by his very appearance make it always manifest
      to those who see him.
      That is to say that whether he is at the Work of God,
      in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road,
      in the fields or anywhere else,
      and whether sitting, walking or standing,
      he should always have his head bowed
      and his eyes toward the ground.
      Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment,
      he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment
      and constantly say in his heart
      what the publican in the Gospel said
      with his eyes fixed on the earth:
      "Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven"
      (Luke 18:13; Matt. 8:8);
      and again with the Prophet:
      "I am bowed down and humbled everywhere" (Ps. 37:7,9; 118:107).

      REFLECTION

      Alcoholics Anonymous jokes about what they call "Two-steppers," that
      is, people who decide to jump right from Step 1, acknowledging their
      problem, to Step 12, carrying the message to others, with nothing in
      between! Wrong! Doesn't work that way...

      Benedictines often see a similar mistake in novices and humility.
      Bingo, they go right to the twelfth degree with nothing to build
      their external humility on but the images of Hollywood. Such
      individuals are usually well-intentioned enough, but one look at
      their demeanor will tell one that there is probably a very badly worn
      tape of "The Nun's Story" among the things they left at home!

      (I'm not knocking the film, I loved it, too! But it WAS Hollywood and it
      is not real life! Close runners-up of the same ilk would be "In This
      House of Brede" and "The Song of Bernadette" and "Come to the
      Stable." I loved them, too, so please don't be upset. The CLOSEST
      of the lot to truth was still not right on the mark.)

      Monastic life will do a lot of things but sorry, it will never make
      you Audrey Hepburn, Jennifer Jones, Diana Rigg or Loretta Young!
      People who learn that have a chance to stay, people who don't often
      leave because no monastery fits the Hollywood model, though they
      often keep looking for one that does!

      Second Section of the Reading:

      Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore,
      the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God
      which casts out fear.
      And all those precepts
      which formerly he had not observed without fear,
      he will now begin to keep by reason of that love,
      without any effort,
      as though naturally and by habit.
      No longer will his motive be the fear of hell,
      but rather the love of Christ,
      good habit
      and delight in the virtues
      which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit
      in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.

      This crucially important second part is why none of those Hollywood
      roles quite make it AND why the first section is spared from
      Jansenism. (Jansenism, you may recall, was a heresy which held that
      we could NEVER be worthy, NEVER do enough penance and so forth. In
      its sad extremes, it harked to a sort of Pelagian attitude, implying
      that we might be able to do something if we did enough harsh stuff!
      But, of course, even that would never be enough. It was a rather mean
      idea of God.)

      Humility is NOT affected, not presupposing, hence efforts to LOOK
      humble when one is not so will fall woefully short of the mark. No
      Academy Awards for this one! When they call for the envelope, it will
      be empty!

      Genuine humility is the most unself-conscious thing in the
      world. It produces the external demeanor without any further ado,
      because the person actually (and usually unwittingly!) BECOMES the
      truth they are striving to live. Humility shows up in the face, in
      everything, just as years of bitterness or years of love often do.

      You couldn't hide humility if you wanted to, but you don't need to,
      because the true humility is rarely even noticed and those who are
      less humble tend to discount the really humble as nobodies. In one
      sense, they are quite right! Both would agree on that!

      If one never gets to the joy and love of the end of this passage,
      there will be no reason not to look artificially rather glum over
      sins that one probably doesn't believe at heart are great anyhow.
      This is where some monastics miss the mark. They can stop at the
      perpetual gloom and dread point, without realizing the contemplative
      joy and love beyond that.

      Monasticism is true, but the Gospel is more so. Neither Jansenism nor
      perpetual gloom would play very well with Matthew, Mark, Luke or
      John. That means they wouldn't play well with St. Benedict, either,
      as his second portion surely guarantees. Love and joy and humility
      are an inseparable trio! When fear is cast out, gloom goes right
      along with it!

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

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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