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Holy Rule for Dec. 11

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for Kristian, on his 20th birthday, for his parents, Joy and Dick, and for all his family. Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 10, 2007
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      Prayers for Kristian, on his 20th birthday, for his parents, Joy and Dick,
      and for all his family.

      Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of the following and for all thier loved ones, all who mourn them:

      Bob, 81.

      Christine, who took her own life, and for Peggy and Christian, who feel her loss so terribly.

      Arthur, AIDS in his forties, and another Arthur, no details, but also AIDS.

      Prayers for Ann Marie and George, both applying for jobs they want very much. May God grant them the jobs He has for them!

      Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and for all those who take care of them:

      Paul and his Dad, Mr. K., who may be nearing death.

      Jane's Dad, hospice called in and may be going home soon, also for Jane, her Mom and all their family.

      Daniela and Nichola, a married couple with 3 teenaged sons, Sam, Alex and Ben. The parents were struck in a car accident and are both in critical condition, so prayrers for all of the family, please.

      Jackie, a college student home with mononucleosis and having to postpone all her exams, quite sick just now and in a good deal of pain, too. Lord, help us all as You know and will. Helps us believe and know that You take care of us. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

      April 11, August 11, December 11
      Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

      When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
      let her not be granted an easy entrance;
      but, as the Apostle says,
      "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
      If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
      and if it is seen after four or five days
      that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
      and the difficulty of admission,
      and that she persists in her petition,
      then let entrance be granted her,
      and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

      After that let her live in the novitiate,
      where the novices study, eat and sleep.
      A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
      to watch over them with the utmost care.
      Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
      and whether she is zealous
      for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
      Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
      by which the journey to God is made.

      If she promises stability and perseverance,
      then at the end of two months
      let this rule be read through to her,
      and let her be addressed thus:
      "Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
      If you can observe it, enter;
      if you cannot, you are free to depart."
      If she still stands firm,
      let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
      and again tested in all patience.
      And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
      that she may know on what she is entering.
      And if she still remains firm,
      after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

      Then, having deliberated with herself,
      if she promises to keep it in its entirety
      and to observe everything that is commanded,
      let her be received into the community.
      But let her understand that,
      according to the law of the Rule,
      from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
      nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
      which she was free to refuse or to accept
      during that prolonged deliberation.


      The Holy Rule is an awesome document about 1,500 years old. Since it
      is always both these things, it is helpful to look at both past and present
      reading it. In St. Benedict's time, and for many centuries after him,
      numerous less than lofty social reasons obtained for joining a
      monastery. This was, alas, as true for the nobility and it was for
      the serfs.

      Got an unmarriageable noble daughter? Ship her off to join the "unclaimed
      treasures" abbey, if they won't take her, found and fund of your own.
      Got a younger son with no inheritance or title, not the sharpest
      knife in the drawer, either? Sounds like a vocation to the Church to
      me... Dowager queen or ex-wife a governmental problem? Have I got a
      convent for YOU!

      For the lower socioeconomic groups, it was often flat out social
      climbing to join the monastery. Hey, if you couldn't be a yuppie in
      the Middle Ages, this is what you did, or tried to do! You not only
      came out well-dressed and well-fed, but you often got educated in the
      bargain, too. If one was not born noble, or if one was less than
      wonderful at warfare, the Church was the ONLY way to climb to power.

      History has removed or severely limited many of these shoddy reasons
      for joining. Hence, it is not always wise to play hard to get with
      the reasons for same out of the way. I have known communities who
      played too hard to get for too long and now get nothing at all.
      Whooops! Poetic justice there! Maybe you should have just stuck to
      not sleeping with knives at your side when you wanted to get literal
      about the Holy Rule!

      Before the worst of the vocations crunch came, there was a terrible
      myth afloat in the late 60's and early 70's: "the perfect vocation."
      Holding out for these ephemeral dreams has seriously harmed more than
      one house. Just as women were learning to debunk the Cinderella myth,
      many houses fell prey to the foolish notion that Prince or Princess
      Charming really WOULD arrive on a charger one day.

      Sometimes the only thing worse than a "perfect vocation" who leaves
      is one who stays. One such widely acclaimed "dream vocation" I
      know arrived with education all completed, and a master's in
      psychology, thank you, as well. Hosanna and hoo-hah!! Couldn't have
      fit the 1970 dream more perfectly. My, was this arrival ever heralded
      and sadly used as the standard to judge the vocations of others who
      applied later. (In the interests of anonymity, I won't even use the
      gender here.) This one grew up to be- and remains- one of the most
      serious and treacherous problems the community in question has ever
      faced in its history. The damage will take years to correct and has
      already taken quite a few. Not all dreams are nightmares, but all
      nightmares are dreams!

      See what I mean? It's balance again, always, always balance. This is
      true not only of monasteries, but of single Oblates seeking a mate
      and of any Oblate seeking to fill a job slot or assign a task to a
      child. The apparently "perfect" one may not always be the best bet!

      I can speak from long and none-too-bright personal experience as a
      layman of begging the wrong ones to love me that being too easy isn't
      a great idea, either. Balance, look at the person, the REAL person,
      not the "perfect" one you desire so much that you see an illusion.
      Mindfulness, here! Really, really, look at the real, strive to see it
      well and then act accordingly. Jesus, after all, IS the Truth.

      Ask any employer, many a plodder who was given a chance and knows it
      will try harder and actually perform much better than the "dream" who
      arrived with all ducks neatly in a row. In any situation in life, it
      is crucially important to remember that carved-in-stone standards are
      never subjective and people ALWAYS are. Thus, a little flexibility is
      going to be required unless you are totally content with never
      getting anywhere.

      In my years before becoming a monk, I often campaigned for, insisted
      upon and ultimately GOT the wrong one desired. Sigh... Any surprise
      that I was still single at 43 to profess vows? God is in charge of
      these things, but God is terribly polite. Get in His way and He will
      usually leave you to your own devices, since they can be the most
      effective teachers! Be too picky or not picky enough and you will
      miss whatever treasure He has for you. Don't take that risk!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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