Brother Jerome Reflection on the Holy Rule Sept 8
Deo Gratias! Surgeons believe they removed ALL of Freddie's brain
tumor. Chemo and Radiation next and long rehab to help him walk
again. Prognosis positive. Deo Gratias!
+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 8, May 9, September 8
Chapter 1: On the Kinds of Monks
It is well known that there are four kinds of monks.
The first kind are the Cenobites:
those who live in monasteries
and serve under a rule and an Abbot.
The second kind are the Anchorites or Hermits:
no longer in the first fervor of their reformation,
but after long probation in a monastery,
having learned by the help of many brethren
how to fight against the devil,
go out well armed from the ranks of the community
to the solitary combat of the desert.
They are able now,
with no help save from God,
to fight single-handed against the vices of the flesh
and their own evil thoughts.
The third kind of monks, a detestable kind, are the Sarabaites.
These, not having been tested,
as gold in the furnace (Wis. 3:6),
by any rule or by the lessons of experience,
are as soft as lead.
In their works they still keep faith with the world,
so that their tonsure marks them as liars before God.
They live in twos or threes, or even singly,
without a shepherd,
in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord's.
Their law is the desire for self-gratification:
whatever enters their mind or appeals to them,
that they call holy;
what they dislike, they regard as unlawful.
The fourth kind of monks are those called Gyrovagues.
These spend their whole lives tramping from province to province,
staying as guests in different monasteries
for three or four days at a time.
Always on the move, with no stability,
they indulge their own wills
and succumb to the allurements of gluttony,
and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites.
Of the miserable conduct of all such
it is better to be silent than to speak.
Passing these over, therefore,
let us proceed, with God's help,
to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks,the Cenobites.
First off, and briefly, there can be flaws in ANY kind of monastic,
even the cenobites and anchorites of whom St. Benedict writes so
fondly. The anchorite can sometimes be tempted to use solitude as
an excuse for not doing good things when solitude has little or
nothing to do with the real, selfish reason. The cenobite can shift
focus to the community, or to its works ("We've got a school [or
retreat center, or hospital, or whatever...] to run here!") in such
a way that the primary search for God gets lost, along with the
examination and self-reformation. The family Oblate can go
overboard on demanding too
much solitude and the truly solitary single Oblate can neglect
family for the wrong reasons. There is always balance needed,
always. It will be our lifelong struggle.
I have said before that all four kinds of monastic can quite
unfortunately (and stubbornly!) exist in all our hearts and usually
do so! That is very true, but today I would like to focus on the
latter two unlovelies: the Sarabaites and the Gyrovagues. Telling
phrases in the
description of both point very clearly to all of us living in the
developed Western world,
whether in cloister or not, and particularly to those of us in the
U.S., alas. I apologize to any of our international members for
whom these problems are either non-existent or minimal, but I think
there is something important to look at here.
OK, beloveds, take off those terribly clouded lenses of consumerism
and put on a brand new prescription of reality glasses and read
carefully again. Check out some of the phrases in question and ask
your heart deeply and honestly how your Benedictine commitment
comes into play in these areas. We are used to reading about these
undesirable monks as the others, let us bravely look at the ways
they are ourselves.
Those nasty Sarabaite parts of our hearts and wills "are as soft as
lead" and "still keep faith with the world" in their works. This
tragically marks those parts of us as "liars before God." But
thankfully, God is ALWAYS merciful and we can always keep trying,
in fact we must keep trying: conversion of manners here! How often
do we surrender and bend to human respect or status? How often is
our religion one thing, and the rest of modern life conveniently
under another umbrella, as if more than one Gospel existed? Do we
sell out to
trends or popular opinions too easily? Do we let our counter-
witness to the bad sense
of the world be obliterated by embarrassed silence?
Remember that Scripture speaks of the world in two ways. One sense
is the good
world, created by God as good and for the good of all, the creation
we are bound to love and cherish because God did so first. The
other is the false world, the one I am writing about here, the one
which lies to us and leads us astray, the secular values that have
idols and the self as their gods. Not for nothing did Jesus call
Satan the father of lies and the prince of this world.
Ah, and those slimy Gyrovague parts of us, which our holy Father
Benedict terms "in every way worse than the Sarabaites." Now here
is a ripe field to harvest some info about our levels of
consumerism! "They indulge their own wills and succumb to the
allurements of gluttony." Whoops! I've done them both a time or
two. How about you? Over consumption of food or material goods, one
or both can easily attack us all and usually can be relied upon to
do just that!!
Out-of-control consumerism is a lie, a false view of reality.
Jesus, Who is our goal, is the Truth, the complete opposite of
every falsehood. Ridiculous levels of consumption and self-
gratification are wrong, not only because they hurt us, but because
they hurt others, too. They destroy the balance of common good for
which God created the world to serve all people.
In the US (and many other Western nations,) the "bargains" which
tickle our fancy have surely, without a doubt, come at high cost to
some one else, often in the Third World, often the weakest and
poorest. They also contribute to the unjust shifting of wealth to
the top few, since even bargains are sold with profit in mind, lots
of it, and not for those who work hardest.
Look, we need a certain amount of goods. Even St. Thomas Aquinas
said a certain
amount of goods were necessary to work out our salvation. (Severe
lacks would mean we would, perforce, have to focus on simple
survival, to work so hard to stay alive that the spirit would be
decidedly underfed.) But, as Christians and as Benedictines, we
need goods in moderation, in just and accurate levels which truly
accord to our state in life. This is by no means an argument
against ALL possessions, especially not for Oblates in the world.
It is an attempt to see through the clearer lens of truth, of Jesus,
How many times do we hear simplicity described as "elegant." It
often is. Real elegance, however, has an intrinsic relation to
Beauty and Beauty to Truth, and the ultimate standard of Beauty and
Truth is Christ. The idea behind a simpler lifestyle is NOT
penance, but a closer approximation of yet another piece of the
wondrous Divine Puzzle which is our God. Every single time we
mirror truth, we mirror Christ. it is really that simple!
Love and prayers,