Holy Rule for Jan. 24
SINCE I ACCIDENTALLY SENT OUT THE 24TH YESTERDAY, THIS IS THE MISSING READING FOR JAN. 23.
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Frederick, 93, and for Celia and all who mourn him, also for the same intentions for Larry, who has died.
Prayers for two families who both lost young sons to leukemia, for the tormented parents and for the happy deaths and eternal rest of Christian, 13, and Mitchell, 10.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their familes and those who take care of them:
Patty", who is having a terrible time with depression,a job search, and now is afraid to go out of the house.
For Noel's Mom, Valerie, cataract surgery this Friday, for God's perfect will.
Jenny, very ill three months on. She is still on a respirator, can only move her head and shoulders a little, and is in a lot of pain. Her husband, John, is finding it very difficult.
Peggy, elderly, confused and rejecting any idea of leaving sheltered accommodation, and for her daughter who loves many miles away in Belgium plus carers and others visiting her who find her very difficult.
For all Eucharistic Ministers and others visiting people in their homes. Their visits are really appreciated by those who often feel terribly isolated and lonely.
Continued prayers for Dan, slow recovery after his wife, Nichola's 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
January 23, May 24, September 23
Chapter 5: On Obedience
But this very obedience
will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all
only if what is commanded is done
without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection.
For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God,
since He Himself has said,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will,
for "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).
For if the disciple obeys with an ill will
not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart,
then even though he fulfill the command
yet his work will not be acceptable to God,
who sees that his heart is murmuring.
And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this,
he will incur the punishment due to murmurers,
unless he amend and make satisfaction.
Trust me, folks, I am not second-guessing St. Benedict on this one, I
just think there is a chance that he is often misread and that
something not at all contrary to his precepts needs to be emphasized.
Few who share my cynical bent would fail to chafe at a reading of
this passage which implies that we must all be cheerful, Pollyanna
optimists, blithely smiling automatons. Yes, we are told not to
murmur, and to put the very best face on our obedience that we
possibly can. Often the real miracle of grace is that we can just
barely obey in silence, without any comment at all. No doubt that is
a tender mercy to those who live with us! We must not read St.
Benedict harshly, even less so God. We must keep the loving parent
image ever before our eyes in both instances.
I want to expand the image of the non-murmuring heart a bit. Some
days one's heart cannot murmur, because it is numb and paralyzed,
unable to do much of anything more explicit than ache. After being racked
and tortured brutally in prison, St. Edmund Campion's keeper asked him
how he felt. He replied: "Not ill, because not at all."
Some days everything seems like another trip to the rack, some days
one's heart is Ground Zero, and everything coming at it seems to be
just one more horrible plane. Never, never think that St. Benedict is
telling us to put a happy face on this. A brave face or even a blank
expressionless one may be all one can muster. We are asked to try, to
do our best, to be as brave as we can.
How very great is the love of God for us at such times. A favorite
image I have used before is very apt here: the heart of God is like a
Mother's refrigerator door, plastered with children's bad, even
ghastly art. (OK, I KNOW it may be age-appropriate art, but bear with
me on this one....) God is bursting and beaming with pride at our
struggling efforts. He cares not a wit that we are not beaming with
false cheer ourselves. With all that mud on our faces, who could see
the forced smile anyhow?
There will never be a time, in this world or in the next, when God
loves us more than He does when we are fallen, crawling toward Him on
all fours and still barely hanging on. The effort, always the effort
is what God sees.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Chiara. She has very poor judgment and is using a credit card she has no means to pay for to travel into a dangerous situation. It is an environment where she is not welcome and it is to meet an online friend. Please pray her parents can get through to her with God's help. Urgent prayers, especially tonight, please.
Prayers for B. and O., having marital troubles. Prayers that B. stops hurting O.
Prayers for Sarah, 28, who has left the Church and is living with her boyfriend.
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
January 24, May 25, September 24
Chapter 6: On the Spirit of Silence
Let us do what the Prophet says:
"I said, 'I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue.
I have set a guard to my mouth.'
I was mute and was humbled,
and kept silence even from good things" (Ps. 38:2-3).
Here the Prophet shows
that if the spirit of silence ought to lead us at times
to refrain even from good speech,
so much the more ought the punishment for sin
make us avoid evil words.
Therefore, since the spirit of silence is so important,
permission to speak should rarely be granted
even to perfect disciples,
even though it be for good, holy edifying conversation;
for it is written,
"In much speaking you will not escape sin" (Prov. 10:19),
and in another place,
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21).
For speaking and teaching belong to the mistress;
the disciple's part is to be silent and to listen.
And for that reason
if anything has to be asked of the Superior,
it should be asked
with all the humility and submission inspired by reverence.
But as for coarse jests and idle words
or words that move to laughter,
these we condemn everywhere with a perpetual ban,
and for such conversation
we do not permit a disciple to open her mouth.
Ever wonder why speech is considered so dangerous? Because it can
build up the false self, the very false self that we are trying to
tear down with our other hand. Our arms can easily reach to the
shoulders of that false self, patting it on the back and congratulating it.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The false self will grow and thrive badly enough
on its own. Why on earth would we wish to offer it any mindless
assistance? There is also the danger that our speech can hurt others,
sometimes scarring them for many years or for life.
Let me speak for myself, here. Probably much of what comes out of my
mouth other than prayer is unnecessary. A further amount I am
afraid to even guess at is downright harmful to me. I don't imagine I
am terribly far from average in this respect. And talk about damage
from second-hand speech. There are LOTS of things I wish I had never,
ever heard. Wow, if only we would guard silence as zealously as smoke-
free zones. Wouldn't that be right in line with fearing that which
can destroy the soul more than that which kills the body alone? I
seem to recall Someone having something to say along those lines.
We aren't Trappists in the world. We cannot control our spaces as if
they were monasteries, but we can and must control our own mouths.
Total silence would likely be read as uncaring rudeness, but what
about some alternative forms of silence? What if one resolved to
speak not at all, all day, except in words of kindness, mercy or
support, to never open one's mouth except to affirm.
Pursue that line of thinking, be creative. Fast for a week
from contention and see what happens. Try a day of not talking at all
about yourself. Try a whole day of asking others about themselves!
One way or another, increase the levels of good one can do with
speech and diminish those of harm.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21)"
Not just the tongue, folks, but the keyboard and any other writing
instrument, too! Genuine inner peace cannot coexist with meanness of thought,
word or deed. Genuine inner peace can be held only in a field of
gentleness and deep, tender mercy!
Love and prayers,