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Holy Rule for April 8

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  • jeromeleo@stmarysmonastery.org
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Jen, spot on her only remaining kidney will be biopsied this week, post-op lung surgery,
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7, 2008

      Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Jen, spot on her only remaining kidney will be biopsied this week, post-op lung surgery, too, and for her husband, Sal, and children Jeffrey, Evan and Ann. 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.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB

      April 8, August 8, December 8
      Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

      For bedding let this suffice:
      a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.

      The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
      to see if any private property be found in them.
      If anyone should be found to have something
      that he did not receive from the Abbot,
      let him undergo the most severe discipline.

      And in order that this vice of private ownership
      may be cut out by the roots,
      the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
      cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
      knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
      that all pretext of need may be taken away.
      Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
      the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
      that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need"
      (Acts 4:35).
      In this manner, therefore,
      let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
      and not the ill-will of the envious.
      But in all his decisions
      let him think about the retribution of God.


      There is a tendency, both within the cloister and without, to hunt
      for dramatic ascetic practices, while ignoring the truly more
      difficult matters that lack the fanfare. Lights! Camera! Action! We
      must always be wary of the Nora Desmonds of our hearts, who are
      always willing to say, a la Sunset Boulevard: "I'm ready for my close-
      up now, Mr. DeMille." How we do love to star, even at self-
      abnegation... Sigh...

      Well, there's two bad pieces of new for Ms. Desmond et al. First the
      penances we choose are usually not the most effective ones. The
      best ones are imposed by God or our situation of daily duty and they
      become tremendous means of grace when we patiently embrace them.
      Second, the ones we do choose can be terrible risks for pride, which
      undoes our efforts so insidiously.

      What on earth does this have to do with the current chapter? Easy-
      and very, very hard, too! The great ascesis here is to aim at
      limiting ourselves to "all the necessary articles." There is a
      challenge here for everyone from Abbot Primate to newest Oblate
      novice. It is a challenge we shall likely never meet fully in life,
      so it is something we can always be profitably picking at!

      Do you know anyone at all, in any vocation, who has absolutely
      nothing beyond what they need? Few that I know, myself sadly included.
      I think this is an area where we can all look at a challenging and
      grace-filled ascetic struggle that is placed on us by the Holy Rule.

      Down-sizing actually feels great, once one gets over the consumerist
      terror of doing so! One will quickly find that, in this area, less
      really *IS* more, (unlike poetry and art, architecture and liturgy,
      alas...! Minimalism there gets old fast...) We become freer when we
      let go of things which hold us more than we realize.

      We can get buried in things we are saving to complete unfinalized
      plans that will never come to fruition, and while we save them, we
      are disheartened by our own failure to use them. Jettison, m'dears,
      jettison. As the one Desert Father used to say to the brethren,"Flee,
      brothers, flee!" so do I say: "Jettison!"

      This has the further charm of fitting well into a depressive's sofa
      paralysis, too. Recall how I told you about that resolution to make
      three things, no matter how tiny, better each day? Works here, too!
      And you will often find to your delight that the trip to dumpster or thrift
      shop donation includes 7, 8, or more things!

      Keep chipping away and the mountain of our false hearts' desires,
      beloveds. And one day may we stand together on level, smooth quartz
      sand, confronted by nothing but the dazzling ocean of God's
      unfathomable mercy and love!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

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