Holy Rule for May 13
Prayers of Deo gratias and Thanksgiving for Lance Cpl Patrick Sheridan, USMC and the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment who returned home safely from Iraq on 3/11/2008, for those who have not returned and their family and friends.
Prayers for Erma, on her birthday.
Rick 55 years old and diagnosed with colon cancer.
Marie 84 and who is gravely ill and not expected to live.
Mark who is undergoing a colonoscopy.
A lady who is having a toe amputated.
Hen, a elder gentlemen who professed not having faith, has developed a serious problem with his eyes and also for his wife.
A deacon who is taking on a difficult assignment.
for a priest who seems to have lost his way and is alienating many in his parish.
for Tom, for grace and strength as he begins treatment for recovery from obsessive/complusive disorder.
for Ann, making her Oblation next Sunday, and for all making their Oblations with her or being enrolled as novices.
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 12, May 13, September 12
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Let her make no distinction of persons in the monastery.
Let her not love one more than another,
unless it be one whom she finds better
in good works or in obedience.
Let her not advance one of noble birth
ahead of one who was formerly a slave,
unless there be some other reasonable ground for it.
But if the Abbess for just reason think fit to do so,
let her advance one of any rank whatever.
Otherwise let them keep their due places;
because, whether slaves or free, we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28)
and bear in equal burden of service
in the army of the same Lord.
For with God there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2:11).
Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight:
if we be found better than others in good works and humility.
Therefore let the Abbess show equal love to all
and impose the same discipline on all
according to their deserts.
Choosing favorites is a terribly risky business for any of us,
parent, abbot or supervisor. Our own self-image (or lack thereof,)
can get very tangled in this process. If we choose wrongly, it
empowers one and strangles the rest, to one degree or another.
Christopher Marlowe (+1593) wrote a great short poem about love at
first sight. Ah, the tragic romantic in me absolutely LOVED
that poem- at first sight! I dog-eared the page many years ago, to
more easily find it on occasions such as this!
"It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows, let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Whoever loved, that loved not at first sight?"
(from "Hero and Leander")
Big fan of love at first sight here. Happened to me several times.
All of 'em were wrong. Had I looked more closely "at first sight" to
what Marlowe was saying, even he knew that what we see "is censured
by our eyes." Of course, Marlowe lived in Elizabethan England. Such
loves ruled by fate and impervious to reason were all the rage.
That was exactly the type of love for those under
us that St. Benedict said to avoid. The poem has an entirely
different message when one considers that ALL our brethren and
children and comrades are gold ingots, all are stripped runners,
devoid of fashion or rank. Marlowe may chalk the preference up to
Fate, but Fate has been an awfully handy catch-all through the
One can hang things on Fate that are so embarrassing one
would rather not own up to one's complicity in them at all! Fate,
however, is about as real as the "unseen hand" that keeps free
markets so equitable. Both are lovely fantasies. Neither are good
means of choice.
I only know of two monastic favorites who were actually loved by all
and really were fabulous people. I have lived with (and under!) many,
many more abbatial favorites who were not, who fooled no one but the
abbot and were mostly resented by all. Of the families I have known ,
the favored child was rarely the best. In doing that memory work, however,
I warmly recall a family of 11 children where no favorites existed. They truly
all were gold ingots. What wonderful parents they had!
St. Benedict lived and wrote over a thousand years before Marlowe,
but he knew well the human bent to love at first sight, to love
without reason or rhyme. He quite rightly points out that this is one
of the many human tendencies we have to conquer. If we don't, it will
harm us and harm those under our care, including the favored one.
Favoritism harms the one in charge, too. Since others can see all too
well what the parent or boss cannot, it diminishes their trust in the
authority figure. If she can be so glaringly wrong about this, why
not about something else? Every person is fallible, but a careless
superior can emphasize her own lack of brilliance by poor choices.
This doesn't make governing or being governed any easier for anyone.
I forgot to mention, of those many monastic favorites I have known,
only one is still in vows. The jury is still out there.
The others all left, every single one. Get the picture? St. Benedict did!
Love and prayers,
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