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Holy Rule for June 2

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for a safe trip for Pat and Lisa this week. Prayers for S., obsessive/complusive disorder. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s
    Message 1 of 228 , Jun 1, 2008
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for a safe trip for Pat and Lisa this week.

      Prayers for S., obsessive/complusive disorder.

      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

      February 1, June 2, October 2
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The fourth degree of humility
      is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
      when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
      and contradictions
      and even any kind of injustice,
      enduring all without growing weary or running away.
      For the Scripture says,
      "The one who perseveres to the end,
      is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
      and again
      "Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!


      And to show how those who are faithful
      ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
      the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
      "For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
      we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom.
      8:36).
      Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
      they go on with joy to declare,
      "But in all these trials we conquer,
      through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
      Again, in another place the Scripture says,
      "You have tested us, O God;
      You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
      You have brought us into a snare;
      You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
      And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
      it goes on to say,
      "You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).


      Moreover, by their patience
      those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
      in adversities and injuries:
      when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
      when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
      when forced to go a mile, they go two;
      with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
      and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).

      REFLECTION

      Be careful how you read this fourth step of patience. It is an ideal,
      presented in its most flawless form. It is not an unreachable goal, but neither
      should we expect significant progress before noon today. It is our call and
      our vocation, but it is a lifelong task.

      The danger for schleps like me is that this step can give one an image
      of a perfect, 1950's TV sitcom Mom: shirt dress, high heels and pearls as
      everyday wear, cookies and milk always forthcoming in a kitchen as clean
      as a surgical suite and never a hair out of place. Full make-up on rising
      and wears hat and matching gloves to shop. PUHLEEEZE! Give me a break.
      Real patience in action is not at all like that.

      Patience in action is a fierce struggle. Never think that it's easy for
      others and therefore something is wrong with you: it isn't easy
      for anyone. One of the biggest flaws of the "I'm OK and you are
      not..." school of ministry is that it makes people think exactly
      this. "It's easy for her and there's something terribly wrong with
      me." Neither is true.

      Please drop that TV image of perfect models, who flit from flower to
      flower in life beamingly, fraught with about as much stress as a
      butterfly in a climate-controlled greenhouse in full bloom. That
      image will harm you. The Holy Rule and Scripture were not
      written for television's perfect, clueless potted plants. They were written
      for strays and plodders like ourselves.

      The Rule and Scriptures were meant for strugglers. They were written
      for real, average people, halt and lame, battle-scarred veterans like
      you and me, for people who have weathered life, but barely. Hey,
      there may be cookies and milk, but you'll probably have to get the
      plate yourself and brush aside a LOT of blood, sweat and tears to
      find one. Oh, and please drink the milk fast and take as much as you
      can... the fridge broke today.

      Patience is surely one of the most important fuels that perseverance
      runs on, but don't be surprised if it often is not very high octane!
      Neither should it surprise you if your engine is not a slant V-8, but
      rather a very cheap lawnmower that has trouble starting. Patience
      is ENDURANCE, not ease. It may, after years of struggle, confer a
      great peace and serenity, but it rarely, if ever, feels like that in
      the middle of things.

      Brother Patrick Creamer, OSB, of Saint Leo Abbey in Florida, taught
      me patience and perseverance. He was able to do so because he was so
      transparent about his own struggles. Many others tried to tell me how
      hard it was, but their lack of candor made me dismiss their warnings
      as tokenism. It certainly didn't seem to be hard for them. I couldn't
      believe them. Patrick, my late and beloved mentor, was so very different.

      Patrick entered the monastery in 1954, when he was 40, after a long
      career at sea. He missed being at sea so much (and for so long!) that
      it magnified many of the every day crosses of monastic life. Abbot
      Marion, who loved brothers and had a very tender spot for them, used
      to send Patrick to the beach for a weekend occasionally, in years
      when that sort of thing didn't often happen. +Marion was wise enough
      to know he'd lose Patrick if he didn't get a salt air fix now and then.

      Even the beach trips were not enough alone. Patrick told me he was
      tempted to leave every single day for ten years. Patrick, when I
      lived with him, literally stayed packed with a hidden suitcase for
      years and boasted of his ability to be gone in an hour. As a novice,
      my heart used to be selfishly in my throat. I wanted him to go, if
      that was what he was supposed to do, but I really didn't want to lose
      him.

      I am breaking no confidence if I also tell you that, during the worst
      of those years, Patrick joined AA and remained faithfully sober for
      decades, helping scores of alcoholics who came to him, because a
      transparently wounded person usually can. I can also tell you that
      Brother Patrick finally decided to stay: when he was 83 or so!! What a
      witness of hope that was to me, to others struggling like me.

      Please, let us all be given patience. But when we get it, however
      little at a time, let NONE of us be "perfect" TV Moms. Let us all be Patricks,
      let us show others how terribly hard, yet doable it can be.

      Patrick held forth from his infirmary room until his death
      at two weeks short of 90. A steady stream of visitors never waned.
      On the head of his bed and on the shaving mirror over his sink were
      two small notes, written in his own inimitable hand: "Lord, let me
      come to You." They broke my heart the first time I saw them. I still
      didn't want to lose him. But I know how right he was and how richly he
      deserves that loving embrace for which he so patiently waited.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome LEO, OSB (again and again you'll see why I took the second
      name!)
      jeromeleo@...
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA



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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 228 of 228 , Jan 19, 2009
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        +PAX

        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
        immediately.
        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.

        REFLECTION


        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA

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