Holy Rule for May 9
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Joanna, terminal liver cancer, and Jim, lung cancer and for all who will mourn them.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who treat or care for them:
Mildred, lung cancer.
Marie, brain tumor, possible cancer
Nancy, 50's, brain cancer, given 1 month to live, and for her two distraught sons.
Bon, doing meth and other drugs. Spiralling BIG time. He went to a 12 step meeting but he has no faith, not even in an abstract "higher power" let alone a personal God. He doesn't think life is much worth living.
Aria, for her conversion, she has begun living with a man.
Joe, in his 60's, diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.
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.
January 9, May 10, September 9
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
should always remember what she is called,
and live up to the name of Superior.
For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
being called by a name of His,
which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
"You have received a Spirit of adoption ...,
by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!
Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
anything which is against the Lord's precepts;
on the contrary,
her commands and her teaching
should be a leaven of divine justice
kneaded into the minds of her disciples.
It will no doubt come as a great relief to other cranky types like
me to note that the leaven gently kneaded into the minds of certain
disciples often seems to have a downright under-whelming effect. A
hallmark of us curmudgeonly types is impatience: we do not suffer
fools gladly, the miracle is that we endure them at all. Most of all,
we want those fools FIXED, right now, or yesterday at the latest! The
tragedy of this is that, in assuming we can recognize fools so
terribly well, we completely miss the fool at work in ourselves, to say
nothing of the Gospel injunction against calling others fools.
God uses human means to accomplish His will, as my favorite
professor, Dr. Jean Ronan, so often said. Ah, but the abbacy scores
doubly on this maxim. A very human abbot is elected by a very human
community. Quite often, abbots are elected to counteract each other.
The human community gets tired of the very human tendency of an abbot
to stress one thing above others. Hence, tight reins are often
replaced with loose ones and vice versa.
It is also worthy of note that, within about three years, roughly the same
number of people will be sorely complaining about either extreme
or the lack thereof! Abbot Fidelis of St. Leo used to say that the first three
years of abbacy are like Holy Week for Christ: they begin with "Hosanna!",
then there is silence, and the third year it's "Crucify him!" There's
a lot of truth to that rueful chuckle...
Much that will be said of the abbot in the Holy Rule requires
tremendous faith, from both the superior and the monastics. The lofty
things said require grace to bring them fruition and grace is also
necessary to see those fruits. This all boils down to a LOT of faith
and trust on the part of all.
Those human means which God uses are often quite firmly addicted
to extremes. The extremes then vex a majority to the opposite extreme.
(I know this is the Marxist dialectic and I know it is not always true, but it
does have a kernel of application.) Usually, sometime after we are all so
fatigued with polarization that we have briefly stopped watching, a median
And what about that leaven that I couldn't notice having much effect?
Well, neither I nor anyone else knows, save the person and God. Some
die, some leave before the effect is seen. Leaven works. It may work
slowly, it may work in a variety of ways, but all leaven does
something sooner or later!
Faith and trust in God's Divine Mercy require that we have a LOT of patience
with bread cast on waters in tremendous hope! It is our vocation to scatter such
bread, not necessarily to see its results. God judges our efforts, not our
results. Often an apparent failure turns to triumphal joy and salvation in the very last
instants of a life, when the workings are known to God and the souls alone.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers, please, for Nick. He's 27 and has gone down a stubborn and selfish path. He is ADHD with learning challenges and has been having trouble holding jobs due to not dealing with frustrations properly. He just lost a good job The problem may be he is drinking too much. Please, pray for him. He's not speaking to anyone in the family because he doesn't want to hear it. Prayers for his Mom and family, too.
Please pray for the Philippines, they will be having their national election Monday. Pray that it be peaceful and that the voters may choose the most qualified leaders for their country, servant leaders that will lead their country according to the teachings of the Gospel and have the virtues of a Christian life.
Deo gratias and prayers of thanks for Tina, for whom we prayed when she was undergoing devastating chemotherapy. She has returned to her job now, and waits with hope to hear if the chemo has worked. Continued prayers for her recovery.
Continued prayers for Judith, Cara, Laila, Willie, Nick, and Jessica, a difficult family issue to be resolved in court shortly. Prayers also for outcome's acceptance by the family.
Prayers for Mary Elizabeth, she needs decently paying job.
Prayers for M.E.’s mother, special intention.
Prayers for J.S., for completion of a number of unfinished projects,, also for discernment as to what decisions need to be made.
Prayers for Beverly, special intention. Deo gratias for prayers answered in the past.
Prayers for Mandy, who suffered a stroke while giving birth to her daughter, Emily. She has lost movement on one side and cannot communicate verbally. Doctors say the next 3-6 days will be critical for her prognosis. Prayers she can recover fully and prayers for her husband, Jeremy, and their baby.
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 8, May 9, September 8
Chapter 1: On the Kinds of Monks
It is well known that there are four kinds of monks.
The first kind are the Cenobites:
those who live in monasteries
and serve under a rule and an Abbot.
The second kind are the Anchorites or Hermits:
no longer in the first fervor of their reformation,
but after long probation in a monastery,
having learned by the help of many brethren
how to fight against the devil,
go out well armed from the ranks of the community
to the solitary combat of the desert.
They are able now,
with no help save from God,
to fight single-handed against the vices of the flesh
and their own evil thoughts.
The third kind of monks, a detestable kind, are the Sarabaites.
These, not having been tested,
as gold in the furnace (Wis. 3:6),
by any rule or by the lessons of experience,
are as soft as lead.
In their works they still keep faith with the world,
so that their tonsure marks them as liars before God.
They live in twos or threes, or even singly,
without a shepherd,
in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord's.
Their law is the desire for self-gratification:
whatever enters their mind or appeals to them,
that they call holy;
what they dislike, they regard as unlawful.
The fourth kind of monks are those called Gyrovagues.
These spend their whole lives tramping from province to province,
staying as guests in different monasteries
for three or four days at a time.
Always on the move, with no stability,
they indulge their own wills
and succumb to the allurements of gluttony,
and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites.
Of the miserable conduct of all such
it is better to be silent than to speak.
Passing these over, therefore,
let us proceed, with God's help,
to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks, the Cenobites.
What are the two major things that St. Benedict dislikes about the
bad types of monk? They have no stability and they follow their own
wills. Obedience is the essence of monastic struggle, and we will be
touching on it throughout the Holy Rule. Stability, while getting
lots of mention, deservedly takes a lesser role in the Rule, even
though it is taken as a vow by Benedictines, so it might pay to take
a closer look at stability right at the beginning of our reading of
The Desert Fathers said: "Stay in your cell and your cell will teach
you everything." Real cinch, right? Wrong! Don't picture staying in
one's cell like a personal day from work, when you sleep as late as
you like, get dressed at noon (if then!) and decide you can eat for
the day without leaving the house to go to the store or, for that
matter, without leaving the couch. That's not what this is about.
Monastics, whether in the world or in the cloister, could tell you
that the cell, the home can be paradise, but it can also be hell, a
furnace of nearly impossible heat. In fact, for many of us, it has
been both at one time or another, and maybe, just maybe, it isn't
done switching roles yet! Times of paradise are nice, they can swell
the heart with gratitude and love, but every spouse, parent, child
and religious knows that we cannot stay on the mountaintop forever,
like Peter, we may not pitch tents there.
The furnace, now there's a fetching little image! But it is
essential, too. Benedictine life seeks to lead us to God. For every
single one of us, that means cleaning out a lot of imperfection. We
may start out eagerly wanting to be like "gold tried in the furnace,
seven times refined," but it's a safe bet that early on, after a time
or two in that inferno, we'll be trying to bargain for less, maybe
four or five times refined at most! It's no debutante's ball in there!
Hate the furnace/gold imagery? Can't blame you there, especially if
you live in the North and furnaces are tricky and expensive worries!
Try a sauna. Still hard, still challenging, still sweats a LOT of
gunk out. However, make sure you jump in the ice cold water right after
the sauna, just so you don't think all this stuff is REALLY a spa!
The fact is, for Benedictines, stability, whether of cloister or
geography or of heart, is a major piece of the puzzle. It's the
ability to stick with it, stay in there, keep trying. It is the
fixedness, not just of place, but of heart and will. It is more than
just not moving around.
A consumerist society is fueled by desire, change and variety. Small
wonder that it encourages us to be always moving, always seeking the
novel, always distracted: it's profit base depends on that and,
whatever else may be said, consumerism is a greedy little devil.
Stability flies in the face of all these falsehoods. It tells us
that "rut" and routine are two very different things for us. The
routine, the mundane, the everyday and predictable are precisely the
arenas in which we must strive and win in the spiritual life.
Stability teaches us that. Our fleeting hells have heaven within them
and our Edens can turn into Dead Seas overnight. Stability forces us
to stick with it, to weather those changes, to know EVERY side of
life and love and heart and place. No wonder St. Benedict loved it
so! It is the courage of which monastics are made!
Love and prayers,