Holy Rule for May 28
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of the following, for all their loved ones and for all who take care of them:
a man with prostate cancer and heart problems, also for his family.
David, 27, a Miami police officer seriously wounded in a gun battle with teens, and for the teens involved. Prayers especially for Giovanni, who was killed, for his happy death (God can do anything!) and eternal rest and for all who mourn him.
Deo gratias, S. has gotten her annulment and now plans to marry her fiance, but there are problems with getting her parents all that distance for the wedding, so prayers that God will do what he wills for all concerned.
Deo gratias, a married couple we prayed for some time back have reconciled. God is good!
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 27, May 28, September 27
Chapter 7: On Humility
Let a man consider
that God is always looking at him from heaven,
that his actions are everywhere visible to the divine eyes
and are constantly being reported to God by the Angels.
This is what the Prophet shows us
when he represents God as ever present within our thoughts,
in the words "Searcher of minds and hearts is God" (Ps. 7:10)
and again in the words "The Lord knows the thoughts of men" (Ps.
Again he says,
"You have read my thoughts from afar" (Ps. 138:3)
and "The thoughts of people will confess to You" (Ps. 75:11).
In order that he may be careful
about his wrongful thoughts, therefore,
let the faithful brother say constantly in his heart,
"Then shall I be spotless before Him,
if I have kept myself from my iniquity" (Ps. 17:24).
Most of us try to keep our worst secrets and flaws hidden from
others, it's only natural. Therein lies the problem: it's ONLY
natural, and we are called to the supernatural. If we all have a
false self within us that we do see, the one we don't see, which we
project to others whom we wish to impress, is even more false. We
LIKE to be liked, that's no secret, but in order to be liked we try
to make a secret of our seamier sides.
We cannot fool God at all. Our false self is ashes before Him. If we
think He sees only what we project, we have a long, long battle ahead
of us. I hope it is true of all of us that at least some of that
false self falls away when we are alone with God. The more we learn
to see ourselves as truthfully and adequately as He sees us, the
closer we come to genuine humility.
What the Holy Rule is telling us is that our false self is ashes
EVERYWHERE, that the only truth, the only self is the one seen by
God. We cannot see all the truth of that self before death: God is
infinite and omniscient and we are decidedly not. We must, however,
strain our eyes to see every bit we can, seeing ever more and more of
our truth until death calls us home for a complete view. Roman
Catholic that I am, I'll bet when many get that complete view, they
are MOST relieved to jump into purgatory for a (hopefully!) quick
shower before the feast! I know I will be!
The false self might work sometimes- false things generally do for a while-
it's Satan's way of fooling us. It might actually reach some truly out of
touch people, or some who have only a fleeting exposure. It does not
work, nor does any false thing, in the long run. Some people may be
helped in spite of our efforts, but to be really effective, we must
be really true, really transparent. We must stand before others as we
stand before God if we expect to bear real fruit.
I am sure that many probably disapprove of my candor in these posts
about my HIV antibody status and my orientation. There is a
rather generally accepted unwritten law of silence. By the grace
of God- and only by His grace- I am a celibate monk. Where is the cause
for shame or timid silence in that condition?
I cannot agree with those reservations. If the only models we can offer to
any kind of sinner are tremblingly closeted numbers living in secrecy and
shame, what sort of well-adjusted sinner would jump at such a deal and return
prodigally home? It is often our shared past sinfulness that makes our best
I think we often dress cowardice and false selves as prudence and
trot them off to the ball as unsullied debutantes. Sorry, beloveds, I
can't pull that off: people would die laughing if I even tried. The coach
would be back to pumpkin and mice LONG before midnight!
I also know what candor has done in my own apostolate. I know that
approaching flawed people as flawed myself is immeasurably helpful
to them and a considerable relief to all concerned, too! I know what
a gift it has been to myself, as well, setting me free to feel I am OK and
at home in a Church that should truly be a home to all.
Over 1,500 years ago, St. Benedict called us all to the humility, to
the truth that St. Thomas Aquinas defined as: "the agreement of the
mind with reality." Amen! That was the truth he wished us to present
to ourselves and to the world, as best we could. The closer we get to
extinguishing the false self in every arena, the closer we are to
God. The closer we are to God, the greater good we can accomplish for
His Body, His people.
Love and prayers,
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Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Br. Tobias, OSB, for his monastic community, his family and for all who mourn him.
Please pray that the US Congress and the new administration will respect all human life, from conception till natural death.
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 20, May 21, September 20
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
To fear the Day of Judgment.
To be in dread of hell.
To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
To keep death daily before one's eyes.
To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life.
To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
When evil thoughts come into one's heart, to dash them against Christ
And to manifest them to one's spiritual mother.
To guard one's tongue against evil and depraved speech.
Not to love much talking.
Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
To listen willingly to holy reading.
To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
Daily in one's prayers, with tears and sighs, to confess one's past
sins to God, and to amend them for the future.
Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh; to hate one's own will.
To obey in all things the commands of the Abbess, even though she
herself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the
Lord's precept, "Do what they say, but not what they do."
Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be
holy, that one may be truly so called.
The first four on today's list are not very palatable to many modern
ears, but, like all of the Instruments of Good Works, they are
important, they are interrelated and each one helps one fulfill the
others. Arguably, one could say that the focus of the first four is
the fifth: "To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life."
We have largely "gotten over" dreading Judgment. We went from a
paralyzing, Jansenistic, scrupulous fear of it right into a smug
assurance that everyone passes the test with honors. Well, there's got to
be truth hidden between those two false extremes somewhere!
I know, beyond any doubt that I shall be both delighted and very,
very embarrassed and ashamed to meet God face to face, to find that
my faith has been confirmed. Ah, joy at the confirmation, but oh,
crushing shame at the simultaneous confirmation of how very far short
of Him I have fallen, through choice, through laziness, through
negligence, through sin.
One can dread that realization without thinking that God is some
intrinsically mean sort, just waiting for one to trip up, hunting for the
slightest loophole to nail us. Quite the opposite is the truth! God's awesome
Divine Mercy seeks every possible way to bring us to Himself and
His rewards of bliss. Every possible way!!
Let us admit that we have been all too good at tripping
on our own: God has no need to duplicate services there! Fearing
judgment is part and parcel of knowing who we are. We have all
sinned. And I know I have failed faith, hope and love, again and again
and again, usually with no more excuse than selfishness.
We keep goals in sight while training. Forget the Olympic gold and
you will quite likely forget why you are training so hard. For us,
between now and the "Olympics" of death, it is only the training that
matters. It is also good to recall that, as Benedictines, our goal is
NOT simply to "pass", but to stand on the podium.
That's not because we are any better, it is only because
we ourselves have added great holiness to our goal. Why else embrace
the Rule? Keeping "death daily before our eyes," we are ALWAYS at
the Olympics, thanks to our vow of conversion of manner of life, we
are daily in training, every minute, in fact.
All of these four lead to the fifth, keeping guard over one's
actions, or mindfulness. Here is a great connection between the
Benedictine way and the Buddhist way.
The Buddhists have a saying that monastics can preach a sermon just
by the way they walk. That's what the care of mindfulness can do!
Just wait till we get to the 12th degree of humility, which says that
the monastics' humility will shine through their outward appearance,
whether walking or sitting or working or praying.
Love and prayers,
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