Holy Rule for Nov. 28
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Helen, for her husband, Joe, and all their family, and all who mourn her, especially Ann Marie, who helped her in her last illness.
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who treat or care for them:
Brittany, devastated at the end of a relationship, that God fill her with His grace and perfect will.
John, hospitalized to correct an aortic aneurysm, hopefully stents will be successful.
Ann, 86, breast cancer, going for her second mastectomy, and a cardiac risk involved, perhaps.
D.H.'s parents, both with cardiac problems.
The P. family, recently lost one child and now another family member has cancer and begins radiation.
Emily, possible recurrence of cancer.
Basil, 19% kidney function and having to begin dialysis while waiting for a transplant.
The seven Sri Lankans seriously injured when terrorists attacked a Catholic school, five of them are children, two adults.
Malcolm , addicted to pain med and in rehab, likely to lose his job and financial straits for his family,
prayers, too, for his parents, wife and their two children.
Please pray for the special intentions of Dom Geoff.
Deo Gratias for Petra who has been trying to adopt. Her prayers have been answered and she will become a mother in two weeks. Continued prayers are needed for Petra and baby since this baby will be suffering from methadone withdrawal.
Please pray for Nadeem and his family. Also prayers for healing for Saleema Bibi, Feroze Masih, Tahira Arif, Marathon Bibi, Shameem, Tariq, Nasreen, Mery Fia, Sakeena Bibi, Saleem, Amtal, Khalida, Younis, Bota Mish, Marathon Iqbal and Margaret.
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 30, July 30, November 29
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
On Sundays, let all occupy themselves in reading,
except those who have been appointed to various duties.
But if anyone should be so negligent and shiftless
that she will not or cannot study or read,
let her be given some work to do
so that she will not be idle.
Weak or sickly sisters should be assigned a task or craft
of such a nature as to keep them from idleness
and at the same time not to overburden them or drive them away
with excessive toil.
Their weakness must be taken into consideration by the Abbess.
The greatest mentor in my monastic life was Brother Patrick Creamer,
OSB, of St. Leo Abbey in Florida, who died in September, 2004,
nearly 90. I learned more from Patrick than I have from any other monk. He had
more influence on my life than any man other than my father. Say a prayer
for him. My debt to him is great and much of what I pass on to you I received
from Patrick first. I have long hoped that even in the slightest and most
occasional of ways, I could be a Patrick now and then to someone else.
Years ago, Brother Patrick told me: "Never judge yourself by others-
there will always be people who will do more than you and people who
do less." There's a very obvious corollary to that maxim: never judge
others by yourself, either! I have struggled for years to learn both.
I still have not succeeded, but I keep trying. Every time I remember
those words I am shamed at how many more times I forget them. I hope
and pray all of you are much better students of life than I am!
The Abbot is not the only one who has to see, really see weakness and
allow for it. All of us do. That's what it means to bear one
another's burdens as well as we can. If and when so-and-so finally
gets their act together, it is highly unlikely that they will be an
exact clone of someone so utterly perfect as ourselves! We can be so
self-centered that we unwittingly actually expect that to happen. If
we stop to look at how ludicrous such a thing is, we'll have to
laugh, because if we didn't, we'd cry.
God made individuals, tons of them. Their optimal state is going to
be just as individual, just as different , one from another. Hey,
that's the beauty of the mosaic, which would, after all, have all the
charm of a tiled floor if all the pieces were the same color and
It is not just the weakness of others we have to see. We have to see
our own, as well. How many people there are who may be
thinking: "When Jerome gets his ducks in a row, he'll be just like me."
Sorry, y'all. Ain't gonna happen, no more than you all are going to wind up (God
forbid!) looking frighteningly like me. Strengths and weakness are
the only tools we have to work with. If we don't even see them, they
won't be much good.
I confess that I do not know 10% of what my computer can do. I'll
probably never know most of its ability. That's often the case with
computers, but how tragic it is if we allow that to happen with
ourselves. That's why the monastic struggle points us to even deeper
self-examination, self-knowledge and humility.
Hey, a hard drive is neither here nor there in many senses, but a
human soul needs a LOT of disk scanning and defragmentation. There'd
better be a good anti-virus program, too, as well as lots of extra
memory! Fortunately, these things cost nowhere near what software
does. They were all bought for us at a tremendous price. Just ask the
Guy Who did that and He'll give you all the free downloads you could
Love and prayers,
March 29, July 29, November 28
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
let them apply themselves to reading
up to the end of the second hour.
At the second hour let Terce be said,
and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
At the first signal for the Hour of None
let everyone break off from her work,
and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
After the meal
let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.
On the days of Lent,
from morning until the end of the third hour
let them apply themselves to their reading,
and from then until the end of the tenth hour
let them do the work assigned them.
And in these days of Lent
they shall each receive a book from the library,
which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.
But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
to go about the monastery
at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
and see that there be no lazy sister
who spends her time in idleness or gossip
and does not apply herself to the reading,
so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
but also distracts others.
If such a one be found (which God forbid),
let her be corrected once and a second time;
if she does not amend,
let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
in such a way that the rest may take warning.
Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
at inappropriate times.
Lectio divina, sacred reading, is the Benedictine form of
contemplation, more ancient than many later forms, both Carmelite and
Athonite. Being so ancient, it comes with very few directions. Much
of its "method" has been developed and handed down by monastics over
the centuries since St. Benedict.
Even in that embellished form, it remains a very, very simple and
efficient means to contemplative prayer. One simply reads Scripture
or the Fathers (or Mothers!) slowly, reflectively, ruminating (like a
cow chewing its cud!) on each word and verse. As St. Romuald later
observed, one waits like a chick for whatever its mother gives it.
One does not read to get through the book. One reads to see if and
when the Holy Spirit calls us to higher prayer with a word or phrase
that strikes the heart. At that point, one should follow one's heart
and not worry about finishing the page! Cleared for takeoff!
It is interesting that St. Benedict weaves all these schedules of
contemplative reading and prayer together with his manual labor
concerns, without any ado. There's another example of the dignity and
holiness of work in a Benedictine theology. Our work, too, is prayer.
It must be.
We must, somehow, learn to be all prayer. That same
ruminative mindfulness that colors our lectio must color our labor as
well. It is a different form of attention, a different form of
prayer, but it is prayer nonetheless! Just ask any gardener or cook
with a mystical heart or, for that matter, any toilet cleaner or
diaper changer of the same ilk!
The Carmelites prescribe mental prayer, which should, with
recollection, spread throughout one's day. The hesychasts of Mount
Athos, Romania and Russia stress the Jesus Prayer, said vocally until
it becomes automatic in the heart at all times. Both of these are
more explicit methodologies, but the Benedictine aim is the same:
prayer without ceasing, prayer in choir and garden and cell, prayer
at reading and prayer at work. Mindfulness of God at all times is the
contemplative goal of all these systems.
This is just my own opinion, but I am inclined to think that the
Dominican concept of contemplation comes closest to our own, largely
because of their love of study. Study, for the Dominican, is often
very similar to lectio in the Benedictine scheme of things. Why?
Because the Dominican seeks Truth, and Jesus said: "I am the Truth."
A Dominican could be reading virtually anything and still know that
every bit of real, objective truth garnered from that reading would be yet
another shard, no matter how small, in the infinite mosaic of the
face of Christ. That is a mosaic none of us shall ever complete in
this life, but oh, how much more familiar He shall seem to us when we
meet Him because of it!
Maybe I'm just prejudiced, but I think that a Dominican education,
such as I had, is a wonderful preparation for Benedictine life.
Love and prayers,
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