Brother Jerome Reflection on the Holy Rule Sept 7
Please pray for the happy death and eternal rest of Luciano
Pavarotti who introduced opera to many souls.
Belated blessings and prayers for Kathleen Persson and Karen
Trespacz who joined the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia as
postulants on Sept. 2, 2007.
Also please prayer for Greg's father, James, admitted to the
Please pray for 11 year old Christian, his family, and his doctors--
his second bone marrow transplant has failed to stop his incredibly
aggressive leukemia. His spirits are very low as he faces painful
side effects from last-ditch treatments and he and his mom are
geographically separated from his father and siblings because of his
Please pray tha Bishop Basil will be blessed with the diet and
referrence materials he requires.
Deo Gratias! Expectant mum, Tracy for whom we prayed, gave birth to
a healthy baby girl and sends her thanks for all our prayers.
Deo Gratias! Dali the missing cat has come home! Cynthia is thrilled
that her kitty has returned, and is very grateful for all the
+Please pray that Divine Mercy will shine upon all those who have
taken their own lives.+
Please pray for all those whose prayer requests were not able to be
posted for whatever reason. God is outside of time and our prayers
are never, ever late. 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
Until the return of our good Brother Jerome please bless me with
your prayer requests at:
January 7, May 8, September 7
[Yet another shameless re-run. I don't think I could rewrite this
and say it
better. Plus, it does tie in the expansion of hearts that
will bring, apropos of yesterday's post on the Morning Offering!]
And so we are going to establish
a school for the service of the Lord.
In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.
But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity
for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity,
do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation,
whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matt. 7:14).
For as we advance in the religious life and in faith,
our hearts expand
and we run the way of God's commandments
with unspeakable sweetness of love (Ps. 118:32).
Thus, never departing from His school,
but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching
we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.
Sadly, a certain cynicism has been woven into my life like a
repeating plaid. Happily, it has not grown worse with age, but has
been moderated (how Benedictine!) into a faintly acceptable level
of occasional curmudgeonhood. If my cynicism is now a rather muted
tartan background, it was not always so. I can clearly recall
reading the line about expanding hearts and running with
unspeakable sweetness of love twenty some years ago and
thinking: "Yeah, right! Real likely..."
Now that passage is my all-time favorite in the Holy Rule. I
thought twice before saying that, because there are so many things
in the Rule that I deeply love, but yeah, this one is the best
loved for me. Why? Because it is linked to love and, secondarily,
alerts us to the necessary hope that the monastic struggle DOES get
easier in time, in certain ways, even though it is never over until
"Our hearts expand..." they truly do. Mine has already been
wonderfully stretched and pulled and enlarged beyond my wildest
dreams, often with me kicking and screaming every inch of the way.
I have no doubt that it will grow bigger still, capable of holding
more, but I know I could not stand that now, it would be too much.
God works slowly, according to our individual needs. Better than
anyone, He knows that doing it all at once would reduce us to
The biggest factor that I can see in God's work of heart renovation
for me has been intercessory prayer. When you renovate a building,
you have to tear down some walls, a dusty, ugly, painful mess. Ah,
but the light and air and space that one finds in those new areas
where walls had stood! In praying for God's people, I learned to
them, more prayer equaled more love and so it spiraled upward and
Gerard Manley Hopkins complained of his celibacy toward the end of
his life, of being "time's eunuch,": "Mine, O Thou Lord of life,
send my roots rain." I can certainly relate! Though I tried three
times earlier, I did not become a monk till I was 43. Many of the
years in between attempts were spent looking for love in all the
wrong places, often with plenty of fleeting success.
You may be sure that the "gift" of celibacy left me vastly less
thrilled than a child with a pony..."Wow! New leg irons and
manacles for my birthday! You shouldn't have!" Left to my own
devices, I would quit tomorrow, or maybe this afternoon at the very
latest. Single is most definitely NOT what I spent my life pining
to become one day.
The rain for my roots was that work in progress, the expansion of
my heart. It's not the same as other loves I have known and in no
way as graphic or immediate or intimate, but oh, it is deep. I am
sure it is not incompatible with married love, but God seemed to
want it so for me. True to form, I argued with Him for years about
that and still do at times.
Like many people, I do not have a spousal love for God, more power
to those who do, but it has not been possible for me so far. I am
often embarrassed to find that the only Christ I can really swell
to rapture about is the One I encounter in praying for His members,
His Mystical Body. I have, however, attained a relative serenity
about this: it is, after all, a very powerful reminder that Christ
IS His members, that we are all cells in His awesome Body.
It is also a very good humiliation. Unless one is deliberately
trying to do less in prayer, the prayer we have, the feelings about
it and about God, are those He gives or permits for us, for His own
reasons. Aridity, lack of zeal or fervor, so long as these things
are not willed, they are not wrong, and should be patiently
embraced as God's place for one at the time in question.
As Dom John Chapman used to say: "Pray as you can, not as you
ought!" We cannot produce feelings that would be false, and at such
times we must cling to blind faith and the will alone. Often the
darkness affords us nothing more, yet our faith tells us that God
IS in that darkness, and, in truth, He is holding onto our hands
more tightly in such trials that He ever does in the greatest of
When a novice in my twenties, I used to look at two real saints of
St. Leo Abbey, Brothers David Gormican and Raphael Daly, both now
gone to God. I am not even sure I thought it had become easier for
them at the end of their lives, I thought, with the mindlessness so
easy for me then, that they were just so old they didn't care
My dear friend Ann Chatlos was a FABULOUS cook and she had been at
it for years. One day I went to see her and we sat talking in her
kitchen, she was fiddling around, nothing special. Frankly, I
didn't even notice any activity that would have produced a meal. She
finally turned around and said to me: "Stay for dinner." I asked
when it would be ready and she said, "Now." I was floored. While we
spoke, a pie, chicken and roast potatoes and something else I
forget had been going on. A full meal with nothing out of cans and
a homemade dessert, yet it appeared that she had just been chatting.
That's the nonchalance of Brother David and Brother Raphael. It
wasn't that they didn't care, it was that things of sanctity had
become so much second nature to them that many of those around them
never noticed that dinner was ready. May that nonchalance of
sanctity come to us all, and may Brothers David and Raphael and
Ann, now also
gone to God, pray us there.
Love and prayers,