Holy Rule for May 31
Prayers for all the Apostles of the Sacred Heart on their patronal feast and for all religious and deidcated to the Sacred Heart.
Prayers for comfort, healing, and peace for Doris, very frail, and for her daughter and family who love her dearly, she is probably near death, so for her happy death and eternal rest, too.
Forty-one years ago today, I graduated from Tampa Catholic High School. Prayers,
please for all the teachers and students there who changed my life forever for
the better. Much of what I give you I received from them. I urge all of you to
pray daily for those who taught you and, if this applies, for those you've
taught. It is a practice I love very much. 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 29, May 30, September 29
Chapter 7: On Humility
We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires,
for death lies close by the gate of pleasure.
Hence the Scripture gives this command:
"Go not after your concupiscences" (Eccles. 18:30).
since the eyes of the Lord observe the good and the evil (Prov. 15:3)
and the Lord is always looking down from heaven
on the children of earth
"to see if there be anyone who understands and seeks God" (Ps. 13:2),
and since our deeds are daily,
day and night,
reported to the Lord by the Angels assigned to us,
we must constantly beware, brethren,
as the Prophet says in the Psalm,
lest at any time God see us falling into evil ways
and becoming unprofitable (Ps. 13:3);
and lest, having spared us for the present
because in His kindness He awaits our reformation,
He say to us in the future,
"These things you did, and I held My peace" (Ps. 49:21).
The theme of God seeking His laborers first expressed in the Prologue
comes back here, like background hints of melody woven through an
overture. God SEES us, yes, but He also SEEKS us, seeks those who
seek Him. If we forget that, God's loving, watchful care over us (He
assigns angels to us!) is reduced to the lackluster charm of a security camera,
an "Eye in the sky."
Ever lose somebody in airport? It's a funny sort of panic, because
both of you know that ultimately, somehow you will connect. Until
that happens, however, a lot of anxious hunting takes place. Do you
know the joy when two such people finally find each other? It ain't
slight! While one says "Thank heavens I found you!" the other is
saying, "But I was looking for you, too, EVERYWHERE!" There is a
great common blessing in such moments, one which far transcends the
anxiety of the search which preceded it.
That's how it is with God. While we are seeking Him, even BEFORE we
are seeking Him, He is seeking us. There is so much love in that searching,
on both parts. The novice is to be examined to see if she truly seeks God.
But the question is not just for novices. "Quaeremus inventum," said St.
Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we have found." And so it goes. A monastic
life done right has seeking and finding writ large on every page, from
beginning to end.
Angels got a bad press in the Roman Catholic world in the late 60's
and beyond. It became fashionable to be rather scornful of such
belief and some skeptics viewed guardian angels as only a slight step
beyond the fairy godmothers of children's tales. Well, folks, it was
one time they weren't on the crest of a wave. The signs of the times
told them that emphatically when a ground swell of popularity arose
with angels as its focus.
To some, angels are less threatening as a concept than God. They are
more than human, but less than divine. They share our status of being
creatures, but they have powers beyond our ken. No wonder popular
culture embraced them: they are a very good entry level awareness of
something beyond, something spiritual. Whatever else they may be,
they are real. Why waste 'em? Let them help us all they can and let
us ask for more besides! There may be reservations among some of our
readers about praying to saints, but Scripture abounds with examples of
conversations with angels, a comforting assurance for our Protestant readers.
Go for it!
A couple of years ago, a confessor recommended that I pray to
my Guardian Angel about a problem. No one had said that to me in years! I
took his advice, however, and loved the results. Growing tired of always just
calling on him generically, I decided to give my guardian angel a name.
I call him Hal, short for the Hebrew "hallelujah", a word I'm sure he says quite
a lot. He seems happy enough with his new moniker! Thanks, Hal. I owe you
By the way, the Guardian Angels are the patrons of the American
Cassinese Congregation. I know some guys who probably would have
loved to change that during the "bad press" years. Thankfully, no one
did! Holy Guardian Angels, pray for us!
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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