Holy Rule for June 17
Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Sr. Celine, OSB, of Birtsow, Virginia, who went to God at 97, and for all who mourn her.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Charlie, a young man who had a double lung transplant 2 years ago. The doctor's believe that his body is starting to reject the lungs.
Carol, on her 59th birthday. Ad multos annos, many more!
Abbot Francis of Valyermo, taking a sabbatical after completing 14 years in office, and for Fr. Damien, their Apostolic Administrator.
Deo gratias, the Third Orders' reflection day we prayed for was a huge success.
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 16, June 17, October 17
Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays
The Morning and Evening Offices
should never be allowed to pass
without the Superior saying the Lord's Prayer
in its place at the end
so that all may hear it,
on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up.
Thus those who hear it,
being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer
when they say, "Forgive us as we forgive,"
may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.
But at the other Offices
let the last part only of that prayer be said aloud,
so that all may answer, "But deliver us from evil.
The Our Father is THE Christian covenant of peace. If St. Benedict
insists it be said aloud twice a day, it is because he knows well the
tempests- nay, HURRICANES- in teacups that can spring up in any
enclosed home group, be it cloister or family. Things get magnified
inappropriately precisely because those we live with are dear to us.
If they weren't, they would be much less able to hurt or annoy us!
There weren't subways in St. Benedict's time, but there was a world
outside. Picture yourself riding a subway with any or all of these
types: an alcoholic, an abuser, a severely disturbed mental patient,
a tragic drug addict. These are just the ones that we might notice,
too. All of us on the subway ride daily with liars, thieves,
adulterers and worse, we just don't know it. Even though the subway
can offer a bit of a challenge to Christian peace, to forgiveness,
one usually has only to wait for one's stop, hoping meanwhile that a
transit cop will appear. If the situation is really frightening, one
could get off early and catch the next train.
In family or community, sometimes even in the workplace, we may not
be able to change trains. Not only that, but there are often no transit cops at
all. (Even less than in Boston, where one may safely wonder how we
can afford all those parked MBTA cruisers with so few officers ever
in evidence to justify the expense....) Always remember that
Christian life, Benedictine life, is never tested when it is easy.
Alas, it is only through testing that we grow, that our practice
On the subway or bus, or even in the artificially detached situation
of world newscasts, it can be a LOT easier to forgive. It comes at
little or no price at all. It's pretty easy to forgive even horrible
criminals if they have not harmed our home circle, if they have not
directly harmed us. Hate to say it, folks, but the easy stuff is not
where it's at for us. A 50 yard dash may be the beginnings of an
Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, but it is never the whole
The key to Benedictine peace is forgiveness, which is why St.
Benedict stresses that phrase and calls it a covenant. It truly IS a
covenant of peace. We are daily asking God, twice out loud, but
ideally many more times than that alone, to forgive us in the measure
that we forgive.
Whoa! Risky business there! Any chain's strength is
decided by its weakest link, so think of the person you LEAST
forgive. There you will have the model you are suggesting to God that
He use in forgiving you. As Fr. Hugo used to say: "You love God as
much as the one you love least."
Fortunately, for most of us, God's Divine Mercy is unfathomably deep.
I don't personally think God feels Himself completely bound by the terms
we offer Him, at least I hope He doesn't. If He did, I imagine heaven would
be a quite appallingly empty place, indeed. It is never too late, even at
the last fleeting instant of life, for us to repent and accept His mercy!
Nevertheless, I'll bet He will remind us of the terms we offered and
how little mercy they would afford us. That is one very good reason
why Roman Catholics believe in Purgatory- a chance to shower off the
terms we offered God that were so limited they would never cut anyone
Roman Catholicism and most other mainline Christian denominations
have not been known as peace churches, historically. They have not
made the dogmatic necessity of pacifism that the Mennonites or
Quakers have. Still, it is very hard to look at the Gospel itself or
at the daily Our Fathers and understand how so many wars have happened in
Christian history, especially between allegedly Christian nations.
The terms we have offered God as to how we would
like to be forgiven have been far less than optimal. "OK, we will
forgive you AFTER we have reduced your country to rubble and your
population by say, 20-30% or more...." If God took (or takes!) us at
our word, we shall be in deep trouble, indeed.
If every monastery refectory, every dining room table and every
workplace lunch room had perfect forgiveness and peace, there would
likely be no war. Wouldn't happen, because genuine peace truly is
contagious. Do you see why we have to start at home, to start small?
It's the only place we have to begin.
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,