Holy Rule for Nov. 29
HUGE Deo gratias, John, whose aortic aneurysm repair we prayed for did so well he was out of surgery half an hour early and will probably be discharged to his home on Thursday!
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Abbot Francis Sadlier, OSB, of St. Leo, on the anniversary of his death.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who treat or care for them:
A man trying to fight depression and anxiety without meds or help from his family, ardent prayers here, this is a very foolish road, as many of us know.
Gloria, newly diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Mary, in hospice as her husband can no loner care for her, needing assisted living himself.
Hugh, aggressive prostate cancer.
Bob, prostate cancer surgery next month.
Frank and Rocco, both prostate cancer
Bobby, on life-support after a stroke, virtually no brain activity, but he lacks a living will, so life support cannot be turned off, special prayers for his wife and family, too. 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 31, July 31, November 30
Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent
Although the life of a monk
ought to have about it at all times
the character of a Lenten observance,
yet since few have the virtue for that,
we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
the brethren keep their lives most pure
and at the same time wash away during these holy days
all the negligences of other times.
And this will be worthily done
if we restrain ourselves from all vices
and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.
During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
"with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.
From his body, that is
he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
and with the joy of spiritual desire
he may look forward to holy Easter.
Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
what it is that he wants to offer,
and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
and will merit no reward.
Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.
Because we read St. Benedict's 1500 year old Holy Rule with modern
eyes, it often seems harsh. To balance our perspective, we need to
see the radical nature of the Rule when written. Face it, folks, this
was most definitely a gentler Rule for European wannabes who could
never hack it in the Egyptian desert in their wildest dreams. His
introductory paragraph points out his plan of adaptation: "...since
few have the virtue for that..." Our founder was most certainly
writing for the struggling plodders of monasticism and he knew it. Keeping
that uppermost in our minds can be informatively humbling.
The Desert Fathers were not terribly interested in mitigation in
most cases. The early message of the desert was: "Get Lent to the max
or get lost!" They went FAR beyond Lenten and they did it all year,
without a break. Any who couldn't reach that ideal were sent away as
unsuited, not called. If we look carefully at this, perhaps we can
better see that, from the outset, St. Benedict's fatherly heart was
with the underdogs, the also rans, the strays and losers that others
could not be bothered with. He must have felt at some point that
there HAD to be a way for the spiritually challenged to become
monastics. A millennium and a half later, we are still benefiting
from his attempts.
Hence, for us Benedictines, when the Evil One tempts us with his lies
like: "You could never do that! You could never be THAT holy!" our
response must be "Yeah, so what? Your point is...???" We have no clue
of how holy we can be. God alone knows that and God alone will lead
us and show us in ways we are quite unlikely to ever understand.
Whenever the demon of discouragement tells us we are far beneath this
Rule for beginners, we must shrug indifferently and move on, briefly
impressed for once with the Father of Lies' firm grasp on the
Of *COURSE* we are beneath this Rule, beneath any of the earlier
ones. Duh?!? We're Benedictines. Our Order was founded for people
like us. That should never, ever be a cause to stop trying, to give
up or quit. On the contrary, that fact should be a heartening
confirmation that we are EXACTLY where we belong, in the best
possible remedial education program for slow learners like us, right
where God wants us.
Like a mother to a crying child, devoid of hope, who moans "But I
CAN'T, I just can't!" St. Benedict is softly saying, "Well, honey,
just do what you can and that will be OK." Get the picture? OK!
Now, go out, play nice and do what you can today... Don't be
surprised if you find that God is increasing, sometimes imperceptibly, that "what
you can" little by little to heights of great holiness, which we will
achieve all but unawares and only with His help. Someday, we really
SHALL "run in the way...with hearts enlarged."
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Edmund, who took his own life. It was his fifth attempt. Prayers for the eternal rest of his tortured soul and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for Catherine, who died after a long illness, and for her husband, daughters and all her family, especially her mother, Jean, who just went into a nursing home after a series of falls. Prayers for all who mourn Catherine.
Deo gratias, TomK had a successful hip replacement. Prayers for his speedy recovery.
Prayers for John, 85, having a hip replacement. He has a bad heart, so extra prayers for a safe and successful surgery and recovery.
Prayers for all military serving in Afghanistan, those living and those who have died, and for the families of all.
Prayers for a man and his family in desperate financial need, may God relieve them.
Prayers for D. and K., marital problems.
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 partly 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
One Who did that and He'll give you all the free downloads you could
Love and prayers,