Holy Rule for June 5
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, fo all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Richard and his granddaughter Rebecca. Richard is in the hospital with an uncertain future, poor prognosis and Rebecca's very distraught.
Helen's 3 year old granddaughter who possibly has a brain tumor. Her parents are frantically trying to get an appointment for an MRI tomorrow and not having much luck. They have a tentative appointment but it is without sedation and they don't know if she will be able to lie still for 45 minutes in an enclosed MRI.
Andrew, soon entering his last year in seminary, who is beginning his month long silent retreat at a Benedictine Monastery in VietNam today.
Grant, 17, malignant lung tumors returning after two surgeries and no treatments are helping, and for his distraught family.
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 4, June 5, October 5
Chapter 7: On Humility
The seventh degree of humility
is that he consider himself lower and of less account
than anyone else,
and this not only in verbal protestation
but also with the most heartfelt inner conviction,
humbling himself and saying with the Prophet,
"But I am a worm and no man,
the scorn of men and the outcast of the people" (Ps. 21:7).
"After being exalted, I have been humbled
and covered with confusion" (Ps. 87:16).
"It is good for me that You have humbled me,
that I may learn Your commandments" (Ps. 118:71).
So many people get blown away arguing against the line: "I am a worm
and no man..." that they completely miss a crucially important fact.
Very ancient interpretation of this Psalm has the Suffering Servant,
Jesus, as its focus. Jesus Himself quoted its opening line from the
Cross: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" There are numerous
allusions to the crucifixion in this Psalm, casting lots for
garments, piercing hands and feet and the derision of the crowd, to
name a few.
OK, so if we dare to put these wormy terms in the mouth of Christ,
how come we get upset about saying the same of ourselves? Good
question! If HE can say it, even metaphorically, we surely should
have no problem!
But many seem to have a big problem there, so let's look at the
matter from a different angle. We absolutely cannot know that others
are worse than us. It's not possible, because we cannot see into
their hearts, we cannot know every factor in their guilt or lack
thereof. We cannot know that they are not better than us.
God alone can know all those things. Even the individual involved
knows less about her complicity and culpability in a given action
than God does. That knowledge is always and everywhere partially
withheld from human consciousness. No one will ever know it all until
they die, when everything that was hidden will be made evident.
OK, one argues, so if we can't know anyone is worse, we sure can't
know if they're better, either. Quite right! Our God-given natural
assessment abilities allow us to be sure of no one's wickedness or
goodness, not even our own state of grace. But we have more facility
in self-judgement than we have in regard to others. We have more
parts of the puzzle there, even though we still don't have them all,
we have windows into our own hearts and minds that we have in no
So, with all this ironclad uncertainty, why would Scripture and the
Holy Rule ask us to think ourselves less than anyone else? For two
very important reasons. First, it is the safest position to take.
Even without full knowledge of ourselves, we have more information
there than we have anywhere else. Secondly, it is the most profitable
position for learning and spiritual growth.
If we think someone is less than ourselves, there is little chance we
will learn anything from her: we're so busy with patronizing
condescension that only now and then will the woman's REAL words come
through to us. On the other hand, if we think everyone has something
to teach us, knowledge and growth start popping up all over the
place, in some very unlikely locations! This attitude is part of
listening, really listening.
And after all, "Listen" is where our Rule begins!
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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