Holy Rule for June 18
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Judy, breast cancer, a mastectomy and am now on chemo. Please pray she and her disabled daughter will continue to be financially sustained during this challenging time.
George, inceasing dementia and wandering, some tough decisions to be made about nursing home care.
Fr. Brendan, on his birthday.
Ali, on retreat at her monastery, for gaces flowing!
W. and her son, he went on a drinking binge when his girlfriend broke up with him, then finsished it off with a joint which had been laced apparently with something else. Now in a coma, multiple organ failures and only a 25% chance of survivial. Prayers, too, for the girlfriend, who is suffering terrible guilt over this.
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 17, June 18, October 18
Chapter 14: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the
On the feasts of Saints and on all festivals
let the Office be performed
as we have prescribed for Sundays,
except that the Psalms, the antiphons and the lessons
belonging to that particular day are to be said.
Their number, however, shall remain as we have specified above.
Every love life needs a bit of variety now and then, even the
monogamous ones, even the celibate ones, and, let us face it, our
prayer is (or ought to be!) a love life. Without marking certain days
as special, our Office would quickly become a bland and tedious bore.
On the other hand, mark too much as special and people soon get worn
out. Variety itself becomes boring and a chore. What sane married
couple would insist on spending every night in a different motel? One
or both would quickly tire of that and it would destroy the very
unity it was aiming to protect.
Having lived in a monastery for part of the 1960's and 70's where the
liturgy became the sad equivalent of a revolving door, changing often
and not often well, I can speak from experience. It became dreadful
to wonder what would happen next. It pulled out the necessary
underpinnings of a certain stability (gasp!) and changelessness that
a Benedictine life of prayer requires.
Ah, but in the quest for simplicity carried to unfortunate extremes,
it did, at times, become UTTERLY changeless. Same old same old, every
single day with nothing different but the prayer at the end, if that.
("Oh boy, it must be Tuesday again....!") No antiphons, just psalms
and canticles. No music other than the hymn, same seven each week for
each hour, a few good, many bad.... No Glory be between Psalms, just
one at the end. It was dull and gave even more of an impression
of "let's just get this over with" than the old Office did at its
very worst. One often wondered why we still bothered to go to choir.
A balance between variety and stability is where the virtue truly
lies. I have never heard anyone complain about singing or saying the
same unchanging parts of the Mass every day, because they are set in
the midst of elements that DO change every day. The same must be true
of the Office to a certain extent. When SO much changes at feasts, as
it did in former days of many octaves and tons of commemorations,
that one longs and pines for a weekday with one book and NOTHING
special, that balance has been missed. On the other hand, the
changeless mundane misses the balance as well. One should never have
to come out of a "simple" Office and think quietly: "Wow, that was
dumb...." (But I often have.)
St. Benedict built the necessary change right into his Office for
monasteries. Ignore his bottom line or extend it unduly and you get
into trouble. In this instance, as in so many, he was far wiser than
we are, than people of any age are.
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,