Holy Rule for July 27
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, and for all their families:
AJ addiction issues.
Stephen, post-op hip surgery, also cancer and alcoholism.
Michael, pains of unknown origin in his shoulder and elsewhere.
Dot, for whom we have prayed about her mastectomy, her oncologist was surprised; he expected her cancer to be more advanced than it was, lymph involvement, etc., but it is not. Dot credits prayers and I think rightly so! Deo gratias and continued prayers, as she is on a strong drug to prevent recurrence.
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 27, July 27, November 26
Chapter 47: On Giving the Signal for the Time of the Work of God
The indicating of the hour for the Work of God by day and by night
shall devolve upon the Abbot either to give the signal himself
or to assign this duty to such a careful brother that everything will
take place at the proper hours. Let the Psalms and the antiphons be
intoned by those who are appointed for it, in their order after the
Abbot. And no one shall presume to sing or read unless he can fulfill
that office in such a way as to edify the hearers.
Let this function be performed with humility, gravity and reverence, and
by him whom the Abbot has appointed.
Our families are varied, both in monasteries and in the world. Not
everyone has the gift of song or of reading aloud. Of those who do,
not everyone has the gifts of love and humility and these, too, must
be taken into account. The Solesmes Congregation is the world
authority in Gregorian chant, but even they must live by the Holy
Rule. I love the story of an Abbot of one their abbeys who used to
take the choir master down a peg or two when he thought he was being too
dominant, singing too loud, or too much of a soloist. He would tell the
offender to sing sotto voce for a given amount of time as a reality
check. Now there's a smart Abbot!
In Benedictine families, those who can are forbidden to look down on
those who cannot. Those who can are also forbidden to "star" in their
own productions. We have a place and function for everyone and that
place is firmly guarded by love, humility and equality. We do care that
word and chant be proclaimed edifyingly, even nobly, but the minute we
get sucked into the idiocy of performance or divahood of either gender,
the whole thing is flushed. As so often, the Holy Rule's clear message
is: "Get a life! Get real!"
We have vocations, not careers. If any job becomes our life, it is
time to change because, to us, any job is work, nothing more. It may be
prayerful work, but it is just work. In and of itself, it has no more
(or less!) relation to our monastic calling than cleaning
toilets or taking out the garbage. The manner and attitude we give to
any task whatsoever can either advance us on the monastic path,
stymie us, or pull us back. A superior who knows this and assigns
offices accordingly can be a very, very great blessing to all. One
who does not should be envied by none.
Father Gregory, our newest priest, has not the gift of song. He knows
that and we know that. It has never been easy for him when his turn came
up to be hebdomad in choir. We wondered what would happen when
ordination turned him, perforce, into a celebrant. We shouldn't have.
I think some of Father's problem may be a genuine inability, one he
could have allowed to make him throw up his hands and quit, one he
could have let overcome him. He didn't do that. He tried and still
tries so admirably that it truly edifies me every time he sings.
He sings with tremendous concentration and humility, and all of us know
that these are born of a deep love and obedience in him. I have often
told Father that his voice pleases God more than any in our choir and I
mean that. He has, with practice, improved a great deal, but that is not
at all the focus: his efforts are, his determination and love and
obedience are. Father Gregory gives the best possible example of how a
Benedictine ought to sing. Would to God that we all had his grace.
Love and prayers,
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