Holy Rule for June 6
Deo gratias, this is from the grandmother of the three year old we prayed for yesterday:
Sometimes the power of prayer astounds me! My granddaughter was able to get her MRI today and, thanks be to God, she is just fine. No tumor, nothing wrong. Thank you and all the others who prayed for her.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and phsyical well-being of the following and for all thier loved ones and all who take care of them:
Please pray or Vanessa, very serious trauma from an accident on a bicycle.
Jim, mid-eighties, serious leg infection and kidney problems.
V., vertigo of unknown origin, sorting out financial issues, too.
Adrian, renewal of private vows, and for Terry, whose funeral is today.
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 5, June 6, October 6
Chapter 7: On Humility
The eighth degree of humility
is that a monk do nothing except what is commended
by the common Rule of the monastery
and the example of the elders.
Well, this one looks deceptively simple enough. Just try it! I speak
as one who has frequently failed it and who sometimes* fails it
still. [* I only fail it on special occasions: Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday.... you get the picture.] This step of humility,
by the way, will translate very easily into family life, the
neighborhood, or the workplace.
The goal here is not just external uniformity so much as internal
detachment. We are deeply attached to the things we do. Demanding to
do things our own way is not humble. When observers come to the
monastery, for the monks or the nuns, I often see little quirks of
external piety in church and think: "Well, that'll have to go..."
One cannot profitably go through monastic formation cherishing the
notion that one has got it right and one's elders have it wrong. You
may even be right, or the matter may be completely neutral. (The
term "optional" comes to mind, but that was NOT used to express
neutrality!) That's not the issue here. Detachment and humility are.
When we singularize ourselves without real moral imperative, the
message given to the whole community is "I know better." That this is
not warmly received in a junior or newcomer should come as no
surprise. A monastic family is like any spouse: you had better not
marry what you hope to change them into, but only what they ARE. If
we fail this, we change "Thy will be done" into "MY will be done!"
and we do so with sorry results.
No spouse is perfect, neither is any family, monastery or job, but if
you expect to change them right off the bat, you're doomed to woe. In
monastery and marriage and workplace, the only person you can REALLY
change is yourself and the sooner you get around to doing that, the
better for all concerned.
The sad thing (and I am guilty here!) is that sometimes these things
we do on our own have nothing to do with piety at all. They are,
pure and simple, revolt, passive aggression, small, though very
public ways of expressing our scorn for this or that concept or
person. Having lived in the Church of the 60's and 70's, I picked up
the idea of refusal as a kind of non-violent demonstration.
I also must say that, in those less-than-halcyon days, I picked it up
from my monastic seniors, just not always the best seniors! I still
do it at times, and I still wrestle with paring those times down day
by day. The hardest humility and obedience are to things we truly
think are dumb and do not matter. The difficulty alone must mean
there is great potential for growth there.
An interesting aside here. The dissenter often thinks she is a grand
and eloquent witness for justice and truth. The stubborn monk thinks
he has scored a real victory for integrity and correctness. In fact,
those who live with them often think they're just silly fools. Of the
two impressions, this last is closer to truth!
It is also interesting to note (again, from sorry personal experience,)
that the rebel often looks at other rebels (with whom he does not agree,
so they are, of course, WRONG...) as silly fools. Wow! If one can be so right
about those other rebels, how come the other monastics aren't right about
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,