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