Holy Rule for June 1
Prayers, please, for Vladimir, on the anniversary of his death, for his happy death and eternal rest and all who mourn him.
Prayers, too, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Joan and her husband, Bob, who is in ICU on a ventilator, with congestive heart failure
due to severe bladder/kidney infection. Please pray that they are held close
to God during this trial.
Deo gratias, Basil's cataract surgery went well.
For Vince, that he be able to better pray.
For Michael, resolution of a neighborhood rift.
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 31, June 1, October 1
Chapter 7: On Humility
The third degree of humility is that a person
for love of God
submit himself to his Superior in all obedience,
imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle says,
"He became obedient even unto death."
Looks a little repetitious here, doesn't it? Almost like St. Benedict
was scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something to use for a
third step, so he'd still wind up with twelve. Not so.
This short passage tempts one to a short reading and that casual
perusal will miss the terribly important things here. These are the
important elements that frame and sustain our obedience: it is done
for love of God, it is submission to another and it is lifelong.
Remove any one of those mainstays and you no longer have a
It is nothing to persevere to the end without love. Nothing. It is
nothing to obey without love, Eichmann did that quite admirably. Nor
does it avail us anything at all to be obedient to ourselves: big
challenge there! We'd wind up Sarabaites for sure, worshipping
nothing but the idol of our own wills.
This third degree gives the reason for Benedictine obedience: "for
the love of God." We do not obey for so little as an orderly community,
our obedience is not mere sociology, it is love. More even than just
love, it is love of the One Who is Love at its highest perfection.
We obey Love's delegates, our superiors, unto death. There are two
meanings hidden in that phrase. It can mean martyrdom, obeying even
to the point of being killed, but it also means obeying all of our lives,
till the moment of our deaths. Frankly, few of us will be martyrs, because
few of us are worthy of that grace. ALL of us, however, are called to the
lifelong white martyrdom of obedience, which can often remind us that
St. Teresa of Avila said that the martyrs "bought heaven cheaply", that
they gained in one instant what the rest of us must plod on for many
decades in a lifelong struggle to gain.
Like Christ, for love, we become "obedient even unto death." During
the Spanish Civil War, in the 30's, Communist forces raided the
Benedictine monastery of El Pueyo, taking its 18 monks prisoner. One
of the very significant things about this group is that many were
just average monks, nothing special. All of them were martyred and
one witness said that they went to their death "joyfully, as if going
to a fiesta." These martyrs were members of our Subiaco Congregation
and we are justifiably proud to have them as our brothers.
Benedictine obedience of love, even unto death is decidedly not the
kind that would please earthly tyrants. In fact, they'd gladly kill
us for it. There is quite a likeness to our crucified Lord if we
embrace that peril fully.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Nina, admitted to hospice, and for her husband, Larry, who also has health concerns, and for their children and family and all who will mourn Nina.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Abbot Benno Malfer, OSB, of Muri-Gries Abbey, 70, and for his family, Community and all who mourn him.
Prayers for safe travels for Peter D., going to Europe. For a safe, happy and holy trip.
Prayers for the eternal rest of my parents, Jerome and Louise, on what would have been the 76th anniversary of their wedding.
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
May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
I used to love to teach 8th graders. At the top of a kindergarten
through 8th grade school, they thought they had REALLY arrived, they
were very pleased with themselves! My 8th graders knew that I loved
them, so I could afford to tease them a bit. I used to narrow my
eyes into a fake menacing gaze and say: "Ah, now you're the top, but next
year? Next year you will be FRESHMEN! The lowest of the low! Just
wait till high school." And they would laugh, secure in the fact
that I MUST be joking....
Well, folks, the beauty of this last chapter is that is tells us we
are ALL eighth graders, if even that. We'd do well to take St.
Benedict seriously on this one, but I'll bet he smiled with the same
affection I used to show to my kids. Three times a year we read the
Holy Rule entirely and three times a year he lovingly shakes us
awake to the reality that we will for all of our lives, always be
freshmen next year!
That's the Benedictine surprise that's wrapped in conversion of
manners: we never "arrive", we're not so hot as we thought ourselves
to be, we are just barely ready for the next step.
This is VERY different from the self-loathing we spoke about
yesterday with the bitter zeal. This is the true self-knowledge, the
smiling, even shrugging acceptance of the fact that we are just on
the way, nothing special there!
God is so vast and beyond us, we are always taking the tumbling
first steps of toddlers towards Him, but He is always holding on and
beaming with the pride and love of a parent guiding those steps. Our
Holy Rule is filled with awesome things, yet it is only
the "rudiments" of the spiritual life!
Eighth graders, eighth graders all, but ah, what a high school
Love and prayers,