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Holy Rule for July 6

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Earlier than usual today, because of sever thunderstorms forecast for this evening. Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Gigi s Mom, who died
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 5, 2007
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      Earlier than usual today, because of sever thunderstorms forecast for this evening.

      Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Gigi's Mom, who died from complications of Lupus, and for all her family, and all who mourn her.

      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

      March 6, July 6, November 5
      Chapter 29: Whether Brethren Who Leave the Monastery Should Be Received

      If a brother who through his own fault leaves the monastery
      should wish to return, let him first promise full reparation for his
      having gone away; and then let him be received in the lowest place,
      as a test of his humility. And if he should leave again, let him be
      taken back again, and so a third time; but he should understand that
      after this all way of return is denied him.


      There are variant readings of the first line of this chapter among
      manuscripts. Some authorities accept the additional phrase "or is
      expelled", though the RB1980 translation does not. As with so many
      things this ancient, it is hard to tell who is right (and sometimes, if
      that matters!) I checked in the library downstairs, but I can't find our
      autographed first edition of the Holy Rule anywhere...

      However, let's err on the side of mercy if we are to err at all.
      Since most modern translations omit the phrase, let's take a look at the
      other possibility: what if it really was what St. Benedict had in mind?

      If so, it reveals a mercy and love and tenderness beyond anything we
      have ever seen in the Holy Rule. If, even after all the hassle that can
      occur before one actually gets thrown out, one could still be forgiven,
      and up to three times, that is very great mercy to say the least.

      Still, it is a very consistent reading with the penal code that precedes
      it. If the only reason for Benedictine punishment is reform and
      conversion, then even the ultimate punishment of expulsion could have a
      hook of possible conversion to it.

      From this perspective, let us look at ourselves for a moment. How do we
      "punish" people or banish them from our lives and hearts? I use quotes
      around "punish" to stress the lunacy that very often
      such "punishments" harm no one but ourselves. We decide, once and for
      all that this or that person has had it. End of story. Well, if one
      reads the Holy Rule carefully, there may be an "end of story" point for
      Benedictines, but it does not come as often or as early or as readily as
      some of us might think!

      Face it, a lot of us think of punishment as about us, not the
      offender. It is our "justice" that gets fed, that makes demands, that
      says we are totally done with the person. Whoa! If God's ideas are
      anything like that (and we daily ask Him to use our standards of mercy
      in the Our Father,) we are in deep, deep trouble.

      Our punishments must have an eye to reform, not revenge, to conversion,
      not conclusion. Permanent rifts, as even the Rule allows, may sometimes
      occur, but then our attitude should be sadness, not joy. Even when
      something becomes so toxic that separation is necessary, we are always
      bound to prayer for that person.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

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