Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. Nov 1
- +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:
+++++++++In yesterday's reflection, I said that there were times
when we should NOT correct. Indeed, there are, but I should have
fine-tuned it a bit more. There are situations in which one is
morally obliged to say something, where one's silence could
actually be complicity. Gentleness and courtesy and love are still
the norm here, but one can actually harm another by not mentioning
seriously sinful matters. Careful assessments must be made as to
whom, when and how it is best to approach the matter, but we cannot
excuse ourselves by shrugging it off, saying we are not "detached"
enough to correct. That might be true in monastic issues that are
not seriously sinful, but it is not true in grave moral
issues. When in doubt, ask a pastor or spiritual director or
confessor to help you with
March 2, July 2, November 1
Chapter 25: On Weightier Faults
Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault be excluded both
from the table and from the oratory. Let none of the brethren join
him either for company or for conversation.
Let him be alone at the work assigned him, abiding in penitential
sorrow and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle where he
says that a man of that kind is handed over
for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in
the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). Let him take his meals alone in
the measure and at the hour which the Abbot shall consider suitable
for him. He shall not be blessed by those who pass by, nor shall
the food that is given him be blessed.
OK, here's a meditation that fits the feast today: How many of
those Saints we are celebrating today once found themselves under
this stringent punishment and now find themselves in heaven's
bliss? Probably more than one or two! Punishments like this are a
wake-up call. Not everyone will take that call, but no doubt many
who are whooping it up in heaven today would gladly give witness to
the wisdom of doing so!
Saints are perfected, not perfect. The final product is very
different from any point that came before. Punishments like those
today's chapter suggests are dreadful as end points, but they are
not at all so as wake-up calls, as points on the way. On the
contrary, in such cases they can have great beauty. "Amazing Grace,
how sweet the sound!"
We have different ways of giving wake-up calls today. I remember a
priest whose Abbot walked unannounced into his rectory and
said: "Pack a bag, Father, you are going into treatment for alcohol
today at Guest House. Right now!" In his case, as in so many, that
drastic step worked, thanks be to God. That priest died a very
The error, however, and it is often made out of cowardice, is not
to give ANY wake-up calls at all. Dump the penal code in the Holy
Rule and let the failing monastics figure it out for themselves.
This approach is utterly wrong.
In the first place, it woefully fails charity. Genuine love often
obliges us to do unpalatable things. To shirk that demand is
terribly wrong. Secondly, the monastic mired in whatever delusion
of sin or illness of addiction has, more often than not, lost the
ability to see clearly. That's what the community and superior must
do for such a monastic. To fail to help such a one to awaken to the
Light that is there for all is a horrible thing.
We must always remember that Christ came to call the sinners, not
simply the just. We can pay a lot of lip service to that concept
without realizing that it could be rendered as: "Christ came to
call those monastics who need excommunication, not those who
don't." Get the picture? The ones we most roundly judge (in spite
of Jesus' insistence that we never do so!) are the ones for whom He
came. To deny them any opportunity to wake up and get with the
program is awfully short of genuine love.
St. Benedict himself says that he wrote his Holy Rule "for
beginners." Well, folks, check out any skating rink and watch the
beginners there. You won't have any trouble figuring out who they
are. Their arms are awkwardly outstretched in futile attempts at
balance. They wobble, they're clumsy and inept. They fall down a LOT.
To assume that, in our brave new world, all monastics have lost
that clumsy ineptitude of beginners is a tragic mistake. We are all
beginners and we will all die beginners. That's just the way the
monastic struggle is. Daily we begin again... as the title of one
on the Holy Rule says!
Love and prayers,