Holy Rule for June 27
There are a great many prayer intentions tonight, so I am lumping them together a bit differently, putting many folks under "for the health and families of" heading. God surely understands. Hope no one minds.
Prayers, please, for Josh, hunting for his true vocation. Prayers for a troubled family, with one spouse tempted to leave, five children involved. Prayers for Bill, James, Philip and Liz P. Prayers for all seriously threatened by awful rains and flooding in England, severe risk of a huge dam giving way, already at least one dead. Deo gratias, Susan, the dying woman we prayed for, died quickly and peacefully. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and all her family.
For the health and families of:
Dot, mastectomy on Monday.
Allison and her son, John, false alarm for cancer, but both are still shaken after his surgery.
Madelyn, cancer, given 5 months to a year to live.
Jeannette's son, right knee surgery, and her grandson, William, in ER with severe asthma.
Bob, our liver transplant. If chemo for hepatitis doesn't work, he has only weeks to live, and for Petrina, his wife. They are not believers, so prayers for grace!
Baby Ethan, 7 days from a stem cell transplant, still only a miraculous chance of survival, but he has beta the odds so far!
Jed, mental illness, refusing help, now a threat to his wife and son, he has been asked to leave their home.
Tom, epileptic, severe head wound during a seizure, bleeding in his brain, in ICU for observation.
Lenny, complications on a late abdominal aneurysm repair, on life support.
Matt and Jenn and their unborn baby girl, she has 2 cysts on her brain, which may resolve themselves without trouble.
C. somewhat scary blood work results, but doc is confident all will be OK.
Sextuplets born in Phoenix, so far healthy, but a long road ahead. Deo gratias, breathing on their own now. 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
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.
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.
Many of those who tinkered with the Office in some of our monasteries
were neither mystics nor liturgists. One hopes that, even though
foolish at some extremes, they were at least well-intentioned.
However, having lived with some of them, that is a conviction of
charity that is difficult for me to maintain.
Many who "renewed" the Office in the 60's and 70's are long since seeking their
fulfillment elsewhere, with partners of either gender. Much of their tinkering
was done in the midst of their worst vocational crises, with predictable results.
The problem is that at any monastery, such things have a dreadful way of outliving
their progenitors. Monastics have a tendency to leave things in place, not
always wisely, by any stretch.
I can only speak of the guys I knew personally, but many of them had
a seriously deficient sense of history AND liturgy, not that either
were paramount concerns in their eyes. The very 60's name of the game
was a tragically appropriate line (from Laugh-In, yet!!) of "What's
Happening NOW!" Whoops...not precisely the way the Council put it.
They eagerly dismantled and reassembled monastic liturgy as if it had
all the excesses of 11th century Cluny in 1964.
It didn't. It needed work, but it wasn't Cluny. In many cases, they reduced
liturgy to less than the historical reaction to Cluny of Citeaux and the first
Cistercians in 1098. Hey, if they didn't have Cluny in the first
place, going to more starkly bare liturgy than Citeaux was a bit of
an over-reaction... Especially if the people involved were not
Cistercian mystics, and let us be frank, they were not.
This mess, and it is just that in some cases, will not end in my
lifetime. I long hoped that it would. I longed to live again in a
church where it was otherwise. Ain't gonna happen, and that is hard
to accept. Sigh... What an odd sense of humor God has in creating us
when He does, at times that seem to us so out of sync, but somehow
must not be.
Love and prayers,
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