Holy Rule for Nov. 26
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of the following, for all their families and all who mourn them:
Edna, 70's, breast cancer.
Alfred, 50's, heart attack.
Tim, 42, quadriplegic and multiple infections wore his body out.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their families and all who treat or care for them:
Janie, 100, multiple problems of old age, but mentally clear!
Mary Dee, 12, Downs syndrome.
Louis, 37, stomach cancer, now terminal, for his happy death.
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
March 27, July 27, November 26
Chapter 47: On Giving the Signal for the Time of the Work of God
The indicating of the hour for the Work of God
by day and by night
shall devolve upon the Abbot
either to give the signal himself
or to assign this duty to such a careful brother
that everything will take place at the proper hours.
Let the Psalms and the antiphons be intoned
by those who are appointed for it,
in their order after the Abbot.
And no one shall presume to sing or read
unless he can fulfill that office
in such a way as to edify the hearers.
Let this function be performed
with humility, gravity and reverence,
and by him whom the Abbot has appointed.
Like it or not, for good or ill, the buck stops with the Abbot. This
is true of many, if not all authority figures, so if you fall into
such a group, know that when the Holy Rule speaks of the Abbot, it
speaks of any Benedictine in authority, with a charge or
responsibility, whether in the monastery, the family or a job in
There is a down side to the authority given here. Abbots are human.
They can make bad choices, they can listen to bad advice, they can
empower the wrong people. None of these things will, in and of
itself, absolve us from obedience, but they often have some pragmatic
use in helping us realize with whom (and what!) we are dealing.
I have known at least two abbots who were blind to the faults of
people they empowered to dangerous lengths. Virtually everybody else
in the community knew, and, though risky, I would say that's a fairly
safe rule of thumb: all of the monks are rarely wrong about someone.
Oh, there may be the terribly occasional genuine saint who is
misunderstood, but usually, when the common opinion was that bad,
there was a reason for all that smoke somewhere!
Which reminds those of us who do have authority to listen to those
who disagree. Sometimes they are very, very right and we are wrong.
Sometimes the person we think is so wonderful is not so hot to
others, has a dark side that we never see, because the individual
wishes to impress the source of empowerment. Sigh...
Except for the rare above-mentioned saint, it is uncommon for someone
in a monastery to be that disliked because they are doing wonderfully
well. I'm not saying that NEVER happens, but at least in my monastic
experience, doing a job terribly well is not usually what earns
disfavor. Being a terror, on the other hand, readily does.
If the Abbot misses the fact and enables one who IS a terror, his
flock will be overdriven in nothing flat. As Scripture suggests, they
may all die in one day and rest assured, those of them who don't will
wish they'd been able to!
Monastics can endure a lot patiently, but I have never seen such a
megalomaniac's power survive into a successor's abbacy. Interesting
to note, but when the power is removed, the vocation often
vaporizes, too. Many a heavyweight honcho has departed soon after the
Abbot that enabled him has left office. Few, if any of them, were mourned.
Which brings us to another glitch. Your charge in the monastery
cannot be your vocation. If you make it so, you will quite likely
lose when asked to choose between the two. I LIKE being guestmaster,
but I don't need to be guestmaster. Something else would be fine.
What I NEED to be is a monk. For some, sadly, the need-to-be thing is
to be in power. Tragic and very, very sad... I have never known such
an individual in monastic life of whom I was the least bit envious.
They are pathetically sad creatures.
But this is also true of ALL walks of life. All we really NEED to be
is Christ's, to be holy. That means to do our VOCATION well, whatever that may be.
The rest is all fluff. Every single Christian and especially those
of us who choose the Benedictine path, need to examine this and our own
attitude to jobs or power VERY, very closely
Love and prayers,
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