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Holy Rule for June 30

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please for the safety of Beccy and Jerry and all travelling on this holiday weekend in the US. Prayers for a separated Mom in a very, very
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 29, 2007
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      Prayers, please for the safety of Beccy and Jerry and all travelling on this holiday weekend in the US. Prayers for a separated Mom in a very, very difficult psoition with her kids and their visiting their Dad, for the will of God in this very complicated situation.

      Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias for:

      Gavin, the 6 month old we prayed for, he is making great strides and seems to be overcoming his infection, but still needs prayers and for his parents.

      Jeanette and Dale, successful medical procedures.

      Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of James, 82, uncle of our Sister Mary Paula, and for all his family and those who mourn him.

      Prayers for the spiritual, physical and mental health of the following, and for their families and all who treat them or care for them,

      Br. Vincent's Dad, Cos, congestive heart failure and kidney problems, and especially for his wife, Vita, trying so hard to care for him.

      Diane, shingles.

      David, severe depression and for Chris, who worries so about him.

      Jeanette, new tests, severe lung condition.

      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 29, June 30, October 30
      Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults

      If a brother is found to be obstinate,
      or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
      or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
      and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
      the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
      as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
      If he fails to amend,
      let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
      But if even then he does not reform,
      let him be placed under excommunication,
      provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
      if he is perverse, however,
      let him undergo corporal punishment.


      While some today may chafe at these chapters, known as the penal code
      of the Holy Rule, believe me, the modern problem is NOT that they are
      too stringently enforced. Quite the opposite. The Benedictine
      atmosphere of gentle moderation can cloak and empower a lot of
      timidity and cowardice, too. Neither are very loving, they're just
      useful means of avoidance.

      Not all love is tough love, but all love IS tough. When a parent or
      boss or superior chooses their own comfort by avoiding confrontation
      with a problem member, everyone suffers. Those in authority are
      called to love, and love leaves no stone unturned, not even those
      that are horribly difficult to lift.

      The message here for all of us is "Look at your own choir stall",
      which is a Benedictine way of saying "Mind your own business and
      examine your conscience." If you are in authority, or get there
      someday, don't be a flop or an unloving wimp. If you are not in
      charge, don't make yourself one of the problems. It is terribly hard
      for rank and file to ignore what seemingly ought not to be ignored, but
      sometimes we simply have to do so or leave. That is one of the VERY
      great ascetic disciplines of common life. Believe me, fasting pales
      to nothing beside this one. I'd rather fast any day!

      I have known monastics (and employees and managers and parents!) who
      forced more than one person out by their unchecked behavior, something a
      good superior could have fixed or at least mitigated. To assume that the
      offenders were ALWAYS the instruments of God's will in such cases, that the
      person was supposed to leave or "just couldn't take it," is blatantly false and
      pathetically stupid. It is even more tragic when the one in charge is taking the
      easy way out by non-intervention. That scenario would be tantamount to saying
      that child abuse was just an instrument of God's will. It isn't. No serious offense
      is and no monastic should be left in such peril uncorrected.

      God's will has to work around and in spite of human frailty, but
      human frailty can and does often put huge obstacles in the way.
      Meanness and abusiveness can destroy others' vocations as well as
      one's own. So can cowardice and inactivity in the name of false

      Over the years I have heard excuses close to whining from people in
      all areas of authority: political, ecclesiastical, parental, monastic
      and administrative. "Nothing can be done about so-and-so. My hands
      are tied." I hate to say that I remain unable to completely buy that,
      largely because sometimes I've been around long enough to see a
      successor (or the juvenile courts!) DO something about so-and-so.

      I have also been in charge enough times to realize that often
      something CAN be done. It is not palatable or easy, but it is
      possible. One of the things that strengthened me as listowner was the
      memory of weak superiors and ineffectual bosses and the tension of
      living in the chaotic messes they enabled by abdicating their
      responsibility. Responsibility is the ministry of service which is
      appropriate to authority, it is a necessary function of love.

      Monastics come to the Holy Rule for the benefit of discipline and
      growth and guidance toward holiness. We have a right to same, and no
      one should have to know that only for child abuse will he or she get
      it. There are many, many abuses that involve neither sex, nor
      children, nor outsiders that require equal attention.

      If we take an firm hand in one area only (an area which, it must be
      noted, is financially very dangerous...) we will look rather foolish
      in priding ourselves that we are left with a community or Church that
      can keep its hands off children. There's more to it than that. Much more.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

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