Holy Rule for Dec. 19
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest and happy death of Joe, and for all his family and all his Oblate brothers and sisters who mourn his sudden death, and for the happy death and eternal rest of Lita, on her first anniversary of death, and for her husband, Robert, on whom this is so hard.
Prayers for the spiritual, physical and mental health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Jane's Dad, nearing death, and for Jane, trying to fly down to see him in time.
Launetta, 96, renal failure and multiple medical problems, tired and eager to rest at last, also for her son, Paul.
Brandon, and for his Dad, Joe, and for Lainie, that she know how to treat Brandon and gets the promotion she seeks.
Baby Lilly, still very ill and now has an infection in her dialysis line, also for her parents.
Jen's father-in-law, seriously ill.
Fr. Kevin, breast cancer tumor not reducing, more radiation while doctors decide what to try next.
Steve, anxiety high over his first ever root canal, many, I'm sure, can identify with that! 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
April 18, August 18, December 18
Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community
Let all keep their places in the monastery
established by the time of their entrance,
the merit of their lives and the decision of the Abbot.
Yet the Abbot must not disturb the flock committed to him,
nor by an arbitrary use of his power ordain anything unjustly;
but let him always think
of the account he will have to render to God
for all his decisions and his deeds.
Therefore in that order which he has established
or which they already had,
let the brethren approach to receive the kiss of peace and Communion,
intone the Psalms and stand in choir.
And in no place whatever should age decide the order
or be prejudicial to it;
for Samuel and Daniel as mere boys judged priests.
Except for those already mentioned, therefore,
whom the Abbot has promoted by a special decision
or demoted for definite reasons,
all the rest shall take their order
according to the time of their entrance.
Thus, for example,
he who came to the monastery at the second hour of the day,
whatever be his age or his dignity,
must know that he is junior
to one who came at the first hour of the day.
Boys, however, are to be kept under discipline
in all matters and by everyone.
St. Benedict, who has stressed fairness in so many ways, even
equality, also insists on order, hence the title of this chapter. But
it is an order which is largely established by God: the time of
entrance. God calls when He chooses, whomever He chooses. When that
person responds, that, for the most part, is going to determine their
place in community.
Families, too, need order. Yes, fairness and equality are important,
but every child is not the equal of their siblings: anarchy would
result. Imagine a teenager exactly equal to a toddler sibling, unable
to interfere at all in the baby's whims to destroy its nursery or
We are used to hearing sibling rivalry horror stories that traipse
far into adult life as psychological baggage. How many of them might
have been avoided if, as St. Benedict prescribed for his family,
order was never decided by capriciousness and affection was equal.
Children cannot understand favoritism and rightly so. But a child
could be a bit more comfortable with rewards for good behavior,
"the merit of" their siblings lives. That might annoy them, true, but at
least it is something they, too, can work towards. Arbitrary
affectional preference is not.
Note that St. Benedict leaves the Abbot free to advance anyone for
his own reasons, but immediately tacks on a warning that the Abbot
must not disturb his flock and that he must give an account of his
stewardship. Abbots are human, not infallible. Human affection can
enter into their choices and St. Benedict warns them against that.
(PS: They have not always listened, but he did warn them...LOL!)
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for all our troops fighting in Afghanistan and elsewhere who can’t be home for Christmas, special prayers for their safety and for their families.
Prayers for all surgeons, that God guide their hands.
Prayers for Sr. Dorothy and her Community she broke her ankle, requiring surgery, and had a heart attack. Prayers for her complete recovery.
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
April 19, August 19, December 19
Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community
The juniors, therefore, should honor their seniors,
and the seniors love their juniors.
In the very manner of address,
let no one call another by the mere name;
but let the seniors call their juniors Brothers,
and the juniors call their seniors Fathers,
by which is conveyed the reverence due to a father.
But the Abbot,
since he is believed to represent Christ,
shall be called Lord and Abbot,
not for any pretensions of his own
but out of honor and love for Christ.
Let the Abbot himself reflect on this,
and show himself worthy of such an honor.
And wherever the brethren meet one another
the junior shall ask the senior for his blessing.
When a senior passes by,
a junior shall rise and give him a place to sit,
nor shall the junior presume to sit with him
unless his senior bid him,
that it may be as was written,
"In honor anticipating one another."
Boys, both small and adolescent,
shall keep strictly to their rank in oratory and at table.
But outside of that, wherever they may be,
let them be under supervision and discipline,
until they come to the age of discretion.
Abbot Fidelis, my late novicemaster, used to always say that
Benedictines were "gentlemen monks." At that time, the phrase annoyed
me a good bit, though I never said so. It seemed to have a ring of
faint middle-class respectability about it, not a little bourgeois,
as if we were monks who were "the right sort of people."
It would still annoy me today if, one meant by that phrase nothing
more than all those rather hollow social niceties. Not that there's
anything wrong as such with social niceties, just that I have grown
up in a country where courtesy, "civil" religion and the like often had
precious little to do with faith motives.
Living among monastics will teach one (hopefully!) by osmosis that
many of the common courtesies which have become decidedly UNcommon in
the world are the order of the day here. We get so immersed in that
that often it is hard to even think of what they are, we just do
them. The best example I can come up with right now is that there is
FAR more restraint here against interrupting another's conversation
here than in the world at large. We do it sometimes, I do it too
much, but basically we do NOT "butt in."
There are many other little things, rising when a superior enters,
not sitting until the superior does in chapter, etc. These in
themselves may seem empty at first, but when linked to the charity of
Christ and His Divine Mercy, they become very real gestures of love.
The fact that we don't think of them much after a while in no way
diminishes the Treasure that motivates them, Christ Himself.
Relationships between seniors and juniors are a two-way street. The
behavior of one feeds the behavior and response of the other. Hey, this
is true of all relationships, in every area of life. Want to be
loved? Give respect. Want to be respected? Give love. It may not work
in every instance, but, along with prayer, it must be the first means we
try and, again with prayer, the only means we never abandon totally.
Though the Holy Rule clearly exempts (in this passage,) the Abbess,
because she represents Christ, the express command that the Abbess
remember why she is treated as Christ is underscored. The Rule is the
Rule and monastics are human. The treatment we
give to others tends to reflect back upon us as from a mirror, often not
without very good reason!
So, yes, my dear Abbot Fidelis, hopefully we ARE gentlemen monks (and
gentle monastics period!) No, we are not like some terribly proper and
equally shallow social gathering of "the right sort" of people. Our motives to
courtesy have a theological basis, not merely a social one. But we ARE gentle
and we are so because of Him Whom we seek and have come to love.
Please say a prayer for Abbot Fidelis' eternal rest, I learned much from him.
Love and prayers,