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Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. Aug 7

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  • Michael LoPiccolo
    +PAX Rita s son, Tim for whom we have prayed --spinal cancer-- is showing improvement. The open six inch incision in his back which would not heal has
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 6, 2007

      Rita's son, Tim for whom we have prayed --spinal cancer-- is showing
      improvement. The open six inch incision in his back which would not
      heal has unexpectedly begun to heal after a very long time. Deo

      Deo Gratias! Baby Harmond born today. His mother Jual will have
      breast surgery on the 8th.
      Please pray for her and a successful medical procedure.

      Please pray for Linda, and her husband who return to Moffitt
      tomorrow to find out the treatment plan. Shirley askes to please
      keep them in your prayers.

      Keith asks for prayers for Harry, his friend, who is dying.

      Joyce asks for continued prayers for her brother-in-law Vic, who is
      of lymphoma.

      +Please pray that Divine Mercy will shine upon all those who have
      taken their own lives.+

      Please pray for all those whose prayer requests are not able to be
      posted for whatever reason. God is outside of time and our prayers
      are never, ever late. Lord, help us
      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

      Until the return of our good Brother Jerome please bless me with
      your prayer requests at:

      April 7, August 7, December 7
      Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

      Let clothing be given to the brethren according to the nature of the
      place in which they dwell
      and its climate; for in cold regions more will be needed, and in
      warm regions less. This is to be taken into consideration,
      therefore, by the Abbot.

      We believe, however, that in ordinary places the following dress is
      sufficient for each monk: a tunic, a cowl (thick and woolly for
      winter, thin or worn for summer), a scapular for work, stockings and
      shoes to cover the feet.

      The monks should not complain about the color or the coarseness of
      any of these things, but be content with what can be found in the
      district where they live and can be purchased cheaply.

      The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments, that they be not
      too short for those who wear them, but of the proper fit.

      Let those who receive new clothes always give back the old ones at
      once, to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor. For it is
      sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls, to allow for
      night wear and for the washing of these garments; more than that is
      superfluity and should be taken away. Let them return their
      stockings also and anything else that is old when they receive new

      Those who are sent on a journey shall receive drawers from the
      wardrobe, which they shall wash and restore on their return. And let
      their cowls and tunics be somewhat better than what they usually
      wear. These they shall receive from the wardrobe when they set out
      on a journey, and restore when they return.


      I have heard US religious women speak of formerly
      being "incarcerated" in the habit. Knowing the rules of more than a
      few communities, I have no doubt that is true. I find that
      terribly,immoderately non-Benedictine, way out of balance. However,
      and this is certain to displease some, I find the usual response of
      US Benedictine women to this problem to be equally extreme and
      unwise. The best answer to too much habit is not no habit at all,
      nor do I think that would be the moderate response to which
      Benedictine hearts would most naturally incline.

      Having said that, and underscoring that I am not incarcerated in the
      habit, nor do I wish anyone else to be, let me embark on something
      more than just a hymn of praise for the habit. It will, trust me, be
      very much more of a love song.

      My habit is not ALL of me, would that it were! I could greatly
      profit from being ALL monk, but it is a large part of me. I have
      kissed every piece while donning or doffing it, every single time
      for over thirteen years now. I can assure you that those kisses are
      sincere, not mindless.
      I love it deeply and the sense of privilege in wearing it has never
      left me.

      The habit doesn't advertise ME to the world, I would be the first to
      tell you that that would hardly be worthwhile or honest. It DOES
      advertise my Benedictine heritage to the world and of that, I am
      very, very proud, for that I am very, very grateful. I am no icon of
      holiness, but our habit is. I am an icon-bearer and that is a lofty
      thing, a humbling thing and yet a thing greatly desirable.

      Ironically, I spend more time in secular clothes than any of my
      brothers here, though I am in habit, even in public, in Athol and
      Boston, a lot more than would be usual in other US houses. Our
      custom is to wear the habit everywhere. My brothers, for the most
      part, just
      plain live in the habit, never taking it off, except to paint or do
      heavy gardening. Being particularly susceptible to heat, I often
      admire them in summer, when heat knocks me out and leaves me in
      shorts most of the time I am not in choir or refectory! There IS a
      penitential side to the habit, never miss that, though I often fail
      on that count.

      People have come to me in Boston that really need help who never,
      ever would have approached me in an Oxford cloth button down shirt,
      in the preppy style of lay clothes I admittedly love. Wouldn't have
      happened. Couldn't have happened.

      One of those people is dead now, gone to heaven a new Oblate, a
      homebound and nearly blind woman in a wheelchair. She was sunning
      herself in her wheelchair, outside her apartment in East Boston and
      still had enough eyesight to recognize the habit and call out as I
      walked by. Thank God I had my habit on that day! She became one of
      our Communities' greatest treasures. I got delegated to invest her
      as an Oblate in her own apartment and she went to God BEFORE she
      could make her Final Oblation. She made that in heaven. What a gift
      Teresa was- and is- to us!
      I could go on and on. There was a terribly sincere man on the Boston
      Common whose question had just gotten dumped on by an insensitive
      priest. He would never have known me otherwise. There was the
      European woman who spoke very little English and felt safer asking a
      monk for directions.

      And yeah, the habit attracts drunks like a magnet, and no, that is
      not often easy, but yes, it has sometimes edified other people on
      the subway to watch me endure them with as much grace as I can
      muster. I have OFTEN noticed empathetic eyes around me when someone
      chooses to loudly and publicly dump all their bad experiences (or
      questions!) of a
      Catholic past on me.

      I would be the first to say that, wearing the habit, I do invite
      that, even, to a certain extent, deserve it. I represent a flawed,
      human Church, warts and all. I have many of my own, but I have often
      had to answer for the Church's as well. That is as it should be!

      I love the look of the habit on my brothers and my sisters. Each one
      seems to wear it just a little differently. (I am always put off by
      groups that look so identical they could pass the most stringent
      Marine inspection! Even in the old days when my Dominican teachers
      fully habited, I could always tell which was which from behind by
      the different ways their veils fell.

      There is, to me at least, great beauty in the habit, on others and
      even on myself. Every now and then I am caught off guard by my own
      reflection in a window or by my shadow and have to remind
      myself: "That monk you see is YOU." Well, a little bit of him is and
      I'm working on the rest, but it still never fails to alarm me, every

      In choir, as no place else, does the habit sing to me. Our cowls
      (cucullas to some of you,) are voluminous garments of prayer, mini-
      enclosures, formal attire of serious business and great holiness.
      How deeply proud I am to wear one. Whatever other choices others may
      have taken about the habit, I honestly pity any of them without a
      choir garment. It is a treasure of unity and joy.

      I am, believe me, all too different from my brothers and sisters in
      too many respects. (I'm working on that, too.) Our cowls, however,
      cover all those things, no matter how briefly, and we are one in
      heart and prayer and garb. It lends a dignity that the Office truly
      deserves, and yes, I have said Office elsewhere in lay clothes,
      plenty of times. Here, I would not be allowed to go to choir that
      way and I am glad of it.

      I am not judging others options, but I wish real options were what
      had everywhere happened. If you want to wear the habit, go for it,
      if not, don't. Unfortunately, we have often split, house by house,
      into two differing camps of "you must." That's too bad and it is NOT
      pluralism at
      all. There is a great deal of false advertising involved in praising
      pluralism to the skies...

      I have known people who were taunted, even treated with scarcely
      believable meanness for wearing the habit, for choosing the "wrong"
      option ( when, in fact, one option only was what was meant!) In
      years past, "optional" was often nothing more than a euphemism
      for "abolished." And, to be always and everywhere without the habit?
      I could never stand that, and I know many who are still lay people
      for the same reason.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
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