Holy Rule for July 30
Prayers of thanksgiving and Deo gratias for:
Elaine, improved family situation.
Will, still very seriously ill, but improving, God is good!
Zachary, 1, for whom we prayed. His colostomy has been successfully reversed and he is home with his twin brother and happy parents. Continued prayers for his progress and for them all!
Sherry, whom we prayed for after her multiple fractures in a hit and run accident, is back attending Mass and doing very well, though some residual trouble with her left eye. Now she is particularly praying (and we should, too,) that the youth who hit her overcome his drug problems and turn his life around.
St. Anne's intercession, on a very significant 30th anniversary for one of our readers.
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 30, July 30, November 29
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
On Sundays, let all occupy themselves in reading,
except those who have been appointed to various duties.
But if anyone should be so negligent and shiftless
that she will not or cannot study or read,
let her be given some work to do
so that she will not be idle.
Weak or sickly sisters should be assigned a task or craft
of such a nature as to keep them from idleness
and at the same time not to overburden them or drive them away
with excessive toil.
Their weakness must be taken into consideration by the Abbess.
Work in the corporate world is, for the most part, governed by two
principles: profit and profit. Sigh... Work in the monastery is very
different at its roots. Monastics work out of communal need and to
avoid idleness. That means, put another way, that sometimes monastic
labor is nothing more than "Keep 'em busy." That's OK in a monastic
milieu, where the bottom line is not cost-efficiency.
One reason so many Oblates are frustrated in trying to apply too much
of the Holy Rule to their lives in the world is that it simply will
not fit. Not only is the rationale of monastic labor radically
different, but so is its schedule. Contemplative monasteries usually
have about 20-25 hours of work per week, not 40. That may sound quite
easy, until one considers the fact that about 5 hours a day are spent
in choir and another two hours in lectio, with no weekends off!
That's roughly 47 hours a week right there, add 20 to that and you
get a 67 hour week. No, it is not all unbelievably hard and yes, you
do get to work at home, but not on your own schedule.
Parents who work- even many who stay at home- have often put in a lot
more than 67 hours a week; a sick child will instantly guarantee that
they put in a few more, too! It is not humanly possible to add the
whole of the Rule to such a life, because what would need trimming
would be the duties of parenting and marriage, which have priority
and must not be neglected.
Our Holy Rule is a delicate balance, finely tuned. That balance is
built around its own standards. It was not, in this respect, written
for secular life at all. If you are retired or very independently
wealthy, you might pull it off. Otherwise, you're going to wind up
like Sisyphus of the Greek myth, who was condemned to push the same
huge rock up the same hill forever, always watching it roll right
back down. Don't do it, folks, it will destroy your peace.
Even active monasteries have to trim and rearrange the Rule's program
to make room for their apostolic endeavors. Anyone who has taught can
tell you that it is NOT a 20 hour a week job. The same goes for
hospital work, and teaching and nursing are two of the most usual
works in which our monasteries are engaged. Often choir or the Psalm
arrangement has to be adjusted and the Holy Rule provides for this.
Don't try to make the demands of your secular life seem less than
those of monasteries themselves. They aren't. They are often your
first vocation, your "day job", if you will. Like it or not, for
most Oblates, our Benedictine calling is in addition to some other
vocation. Both must always be respected, if anything has to suffer,
the primary vocation comes first. (Hence the name!)
By now I think most of you know me well enough to realize that I
spend the great bulk of my time and effort trying to explain to you
how the Holy Rule IS applicable to daily life anywhere. This is one
time, however- and there are sure to be others- when I have to tell
you that it is NOT applicable fully. If you have a problem in this
area, please listen carefully. Nobody wants to be like Sisyphus!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]