Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. Feb 28
My Dad, Jerome, died on Feb. 29. Hence, most years it is a toss up
whether one remembers his anniversary on the last day of February or
the day after the 28th. Whichever, I hope you will remember him in
prayer. He was a profound influence on me, even though I lost him
when I was not quite 11. His example and devotion went a long way
to making me the guy who send this series of reflections to you
Please pray for safe travel for our good Brother Jerome and for
spiritual growth and fulfillment for all involved in the Retreat.
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
+Please pray that Divine Mercy will shine upon all who have taken
their own lives. +
February 28, June 29, October 29
Chapter 22: How the Sisters Are to Sleep
Let each one sleep in a separate bed. Let them receive bedding
suitable to their manner of life, according to the Abbess's
directions. If possible let all sleep in one place; but if the
number does not allow this, let them take their rest by tens or
twenties with the seniors who have charge of them.
A candle shall be kept burning in the room until morning.
Let them sleep clothed and girded with belts or cords -- but not
with their knives at their sides, lest they cut themselves in their
sleep -- and thus be always ready to rise without delay when the
signal is given and hasten to be before one another at the Work of
yet with all gravity and decorum.
The younger shall not have beds next to one another, but among
those of the older ones.
When they rise for the Work of God let them gently encourage one
another, that the drowsy may have no excuse.
Hastening "yet will all gravity and decorum" has prompted many a
community joke, many a wry comment as one ran most ungracefully,
parts of the habit flapping wildly in the breeze, to whatever the
bell was about to make one late for! St. Benedict far antedates the
Three Stooges, but he still took precautions to ensure that we
would not look EXACTLY like Moe, Larry and Curly when we went to
choir or dinner! Admittedly, some of our human tendency still
arises to give a partial glimpse of that comedic trio, but, as
always, the picture is
The idea of sexual temptations being thwarted by a lamp burning and
fully clothed juniors interspersed among seniors has been
mentioned, but there is also another very pragmatic rationale. First
off, the young, even in monasteries, tend to giggle. No point in
grand silence into a noisy slumber party!
Even more importantly, the elderly may have problems during the
night if their health is declining. Hale and hearty (and hopefully
easily awakened!) juniors nearby promise them assistance, if
needed. Of course, if you want a humorous take on the knives issue,
it may have been to prevent mayhem and murder of snorers, an idea
which has occurred to many light sleepers!
Of course, dormitory sleeping is a thing of the past in our Order
today, but its nice to see that thoughtfulness behind its original
expression in the Holy Rule. There's a bit of the mother in St.
Benedict, going out of his way to mention a small detail like not
sleeping with knives. It is worthy of note, however, that St.
Benedict, as always is MODERATELY maternal, not neurotically so! He
doesn't get all bent out of shape, but he cares greatly and deeply.
One of the most beautiful images in this passage is the exhortation
to "gently encourage one another" at the hour of rising. Remember
that the strictest silence of all prevailed at this time. Now
picture the monastics gently encouraging one another! With no
had to be a lot of touch, a lot of gentle smiles, a lot of warmth
and care expressed NON-verbally.
A very good idea of how loving a monastic is can be had by
disturbing their silence (or sleep, I imagine!!) Is the reaction
cross and withering? Watch out for that one! Is there a smile, even
a warm one, a reaction of sweetness? Well, when silence is over,
that is a
monastic to whose words you may want to listen carefully.
One species of Australian eucalyptus keeps the ground around itself
clear by emitting a toxic substance that renders other growth
impossible. Sad to say, but sometimes monastics in community (or in
families, or in workplaces!) can engage in a very similar toxicity.
There is a terrible facial message that says: "Don't even come near
me- with anything at all!" We need to watch ourselves carefully for
Everyone has bad days, now and then. Good communities and good
families know how to spot them in each other. If, however, those
days get strung together for some time and fairly often, something
is very, very wrong. Either the monastic doesn't belong in community
or they do belong in treatment. The monastic life, in cloister or
marketplace, is not the proper arena for eucalyptus toxicity!
Love and prayers,