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Holy Rule for Mar. 31

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Don looking for
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 30, 2008
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      Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

      Don looking for work.
      A couple whose marriage is in trouble and their son who is hurting in the process.
      Vince, sciatica, depression, arthritis and lower back pain syndrome.
      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.


      St. Benedict uses the term "ought" to express the fact that a
      monastic life is, by rights, one full-time Lent. Though "ought"
      and "should" are commonly used as identical terms these days, they
      are not synonymous. "Should" expresses a wish, "I should like some
      coffee." "Ought" expresses a moral issue or obligation, "We ought to
      help that woman."

      In his use of the stronger, moral term, St. Benedict acknowledges
      that a monastic's life is truly an obligation to a perpetual Lent.
      Then he goes on to make one of his most sweepingly gentle and kind
      allowances for human nature: "yet, since few have the virtue for
      that..." The beauty of his adaptation is often lost, people quoting
      only the first line of the chapter, reading it as pointing to a Lent
      that never ends.

      Slangily put, what our holy Father is saying here
      is: "OK, in a real world, monastics ought to live Lent all the time,
      but since few of us can pull that off, let's shoot for pouring it all
      on during Lent itself." That's a very different sentiment!

      Benedictines have been known for many things, but harsh, physical
      austerity, especially during the last several centuries, has not been
      one of them. Sometimes in the past I think that has given some of us
      a slight inferiority complex, since the world tends to rank Orders in
      terms of their strictness, wrongly assuming that monastic life is
      some kind of Olympics of penance. Happy the Benedictine who has no
      such hang-ups! We are moderate and gentle, therein is our strength.

      We are not the elite special forces of the Church nor do we pretend
      to be. We leave the superstar status claims firmly alone. Quietly, we
      know with surety that the local also-rans of the Church often do just
      as well as any others, without all the fanfare! There is a certain
      humility in our not even wishing to get involved in that "stricter-
      than-thou" business. It is futile in more ways than one; even if we
      could win it, it would not be valid. The Christian monastic's life is
      not about trophies in harshness.

      So, yeah, we balance, always balance. We moderate. That is our gift
      from our Father Benedict. Enjoy that to the full, dear brothers and
      sisters. We belong to a gentle and loving family!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

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