I ask all of you to remember my friend, Sister Lany Jo, on her
feastday. I have long teased her that she chose St. Joseph the WORKER
because she was such a workaholic! Pray for a Benedictine balance to
soothe her! She gets this Holy Rule reading and will be thrilled at
your prayers, as well as annoyed at my workaholic line!
Prayers also for Father Robert, a Trappist of Spencer, who is slated
for heart surgery ASAP. God's will be done. Thanks so much! NRN JL
May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
I used to love to teach 8th graders. At the top of a kindergarten
through 8th grade school, they thought they had REALLY arrived, they
were very pleased with themselves! My 8th graders knew that I loved
them, so I could afford to tease them a bit. I used to narrow my eyes
into a fake menacing gaze and say: "Ah, now you're the top, but next
year? Next year you will be FRESHMEN! The lowest of the low! Just
wait till high school." And they would laugh, secure in the fact that
I MUST be joking....
Well, folks, the beauty of this last chapter is that is tells us we
are ALL eighth graders, if even that. We'd do well to take St.
Benedict seriously on this one, but I'll bet he smiled with the same
affection I used to show to my kids. Three times a year we read the
Holy Rule entirely and three times a year he lovingly shakes us awake
to the reality that we will for the most part of our lives, always be
freshmen next year!
That's the Benedictine surprise that's wrapped in conversion of
manners: we never "arrive", we're not so hot as we thought ourselves
to be, we are just barely ready for the next step.
This is VERY different from the self-loathing we spoke about
yesterday with the bitter zeal. This is the true self-knowledge, the
smiling, even shrugging acceptance of the fact that we are just on
the way, nothing special there!
How great must our God be! I have never known anyone who kept all of
the Holy Rule perfectly, but I have known many that I thought were
great saints, very observant monastics. St. Benedict is clearly
telling us that God is even more than we may attain by observing this
Rule. God is so vast and beyond us, we are always taking the tumbling
first steps of toddlers towards Him, but He is always holding on and
beaming with the pride an love of a parent guiding those steps. Our
Holy Rule is filled with awesome things, yet it is only
the "rudiments" of the spiritual life!
Eighth graders, eighth graders all, but ah, what a high school awaits!
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery