Holy Rule for Apr. 25
Prayers for Father Mark of Pluscarden on his feastday, graces and blessings
and ad multos annos!
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Mrs. Falkow, and for all who mourn her.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all who love them and all who take care of them:
Ann, performance evaluation this week at work and now a fibromyalgia flare-up, difficulties with work situation, too.
Jessie, Stephen and their baby, due Dec. 19th, all especially needing prayers.
Mary, 70's, hip replacement needed, but extensive foot surgery necessay before the hip can be done.
Karen, recovering from pnemonia and bronchitis.
Scott, diabetic, heart attack, triple bypass and neuropathy.
Phil, heart failure and fluid in his lungs, only mid 50's, but overweight and a risk factor.
Barb, Phil's boss, who badly needs his assistance at work and is having a tough time without him, also for her dog, who fell and broke his leg.
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 25, August 25, December 25
Chapter 67: On Brethren Who Are Sent on a Journey
Let the brethren who are sent on a journey
to the prayers of all the brethren and of the Abbot;
and always at the last prayer of the Work of God
let a commemoration be made of all absent brethren.
When brethren return from a journey,
at the end of each canonical Hour of the Work of God
on the day they return,
let them lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory
and beg the prayers of all
on account of any faults
that may have surprised them on the road,
through the seeing or hearing of something evil,
or through idle talk.
And let no one presume to tell another
whatever he may have seen or heard outside of the monastery,
because this causes very great harm.
But if anyone presumes to do so,
let him undergo the punishment of the Rule.
And let him be punished likewise who would presume
to leave the enclosure of the monastery
and go anywhere or do anything, however small,
without an order from the Abbot.
Lay people, in St. Benedict's time and for centuries afterward, were
more cloistered in the sense of media isolation than most religious
are today, especially so in rural areas. We have to put ourselves
into their perspective to see what St. Benedict is saying here. There
was no postal service, let alone electronic media of any sort.
Couriers and outriders, official or self-appointed were the only
sources of news. Gossip and hearsay were the only news media
available to most. It was, in comparison to our own day, a rather
Today's active Benedictine educator or health care provider or parish
minister could ill afford being so out of touch, much less Oblates in
the world with jobs and families. Still, it is important to see that
St. Benedict stressed this value as strongly as he did and try to
find out why he did so.
Fast forward to a Benedictine value we haven't mentioned much lately,
but a central one: purity of heart. Purity of heart is the focused,
singular monastic way of searching for God, of the spiritual
struggle. Purity of heart, as Kierkegaard said, really IS to will one
thing. For the Benedictine, that one thing is God, union with God.
A very old monastic principle, one more alive in the East today than in
the West, held that whatever did not help one in the monastic quest
was actually harmful. Under that theory, there was no middle ground
of neutrality. It helped you become a better monastic or it didn't.
If it didn't, it wasn't considered extraneous, it was considered
harmful, even evil. Since St. Benedict doesn't say that things heard
from outside "can" cause great harm, but rather that they flat out do
cause it, it may be to this earlier concept that he refers.
We live in a world so flooded with media, with input, that it would astound
a person of St. Benedict's time, even one with no taste for monastic life!
Let us frankly face the fact, beloveds, that ALL of that information is not
even good, let alone useful. We are so immersed in the barrage that we have
often become indiscriminate, indifferent to it. We must develop and
hone and reclaim that skill to sift and avoid the useless or harmful.
We must be mindful and examine the amount and genuine worth of media
exposure we allow ourselves. The sky is not the limit here.
Our lives and vocations are so varied and our differences are so
wide, but our quest is the same. Somehow, each of us, in every
milieu, has to find a way to carve out a little bit of that isolation
for ourselves. I love Ann McPhillips' phrase: "gatekeepers of our
hearts." Face it, we live in an age where we can easily be in touch
with virtually everything and that is not always good for us.
It's about focus, it's about the times in one's life that one must
carve out for oneself, times in which "only one thing is needful."
When a cacophony of things become needful, purity of heart is drowned
out. Maybe we have noisy families or lives, maybe we honestly cannot
get the respite we seek. That's when we have to really struggle to
build it in our hearts, to find God, as Teresa of Avila did, among
the pots and pans.
Our hearts may, in truth, be the only monasteries we have, the only
gates we shall ever keep, but that does not matter. God knew from all
eternity exactly the environments and times in which we would have to
seek Him and He tailor-made them for us, even though in the midst of them,
that may be hard to see at the time. He knows what He is about. We
need to build that "one thing needful" as a place within us. For many
of us, that will be the only desert to which we can ever fly.
One last pointer for the news you DO watch or listen to or read: do so
with prayer, make it lead to prayer. We have become more or less
immune to horrible tragedy unfolding before us. Lose that immunity. Saying
"Tsk, tsk..." helps no one. Say a prayer, say lots of prayers for those
horror becomes the grist of news mills.
Love and prayers,
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