Holy Rule for June 26
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of the following, fo all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
David, whose birthday we celebrated in August, who has developed a
brain tumor and for his horrified and worried parents and family.
Sam, who will be having a heart valve replacement surgery tomorrow morning. He was born with a defect and has been fine all these years...he is 60, however, he is having some problems and now needs the surgery.
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.
February 25, June 26, October 26
Chapter 19: On the Manner of Saying the Divine Office
We believe that the divine presence is everywhere
and that "the eyes of the Lord
are looking on the good and the evil in every place" (Prov. 15:3).
But we should believe this especially without any doubt
when we are assisting at the Work of God.
To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words,
"Serve the Lord in fear" (Ps. 2:11)
and again "Sing praises wisely" (Ps. 46:8)
and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to You" (Ps.
Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves
in sight of the Godhead and of His Angels,
and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way
that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.
Students act differently (usually worse, alas...) for a substitute
teacher. Employees are different when the boss is off for the day.
These assortments of different behavior are pretty much shot through
the human condition, though not necessarily always a good idea.
Sometimes, we conduct ourselves in an artificially nice (or wicked!)
manner because we do NOT know with whom we are dealing. Our
politeness or our shyness or boldness can be terribly false facades.
Whether our projections are attempts to be cool and with it or
decidedly cultured and subtle, they can be masks, and are at times!
The message here is no masks. Know Him in Whose presence and House
you are. But really KNOW Him. That can take a lifetime of trying on
and shedding as false different modes of conduct.
God, like so many things, is very Benedictine in His perfection,
which stands between the extremes in which we are prone to think of
Him. If you think God is pretty much like the strictest teacher you
ever had, who ran a real death camp of a classroom, guess again.
You're dead wrong.
On the other hand, neither is God some smiling, spinelessly
"tolerant" chap Who will put up with any and all behavior with a shrug,
though I surely hope He has chuckled at some of my earthier moments
more than once! God has standards and He has shared them with us.
Both extreme views of God are wrong, not surprisingly! The middle
perfection of God is His love and His mercy, His Heart which knows the
demands of justice better than anyone, but always, always tends to
mercy. Mercy is God's greatest attribute, the perfect function of His
God is Parent and Creator and we are always creatures, but we are not
always children. We have to grow to the adult relationship with God
that fortunate children eventually share with their parents. (If we
never got to do this, and many haven't, establishing such honesty
with God is possibly going to be a bit of a chore... Keep trying!)
As we grow in our knowledge of God, our behavior around Him (and we
are ALWAYS "around Him", that's another clear message of the Holy
Rule!) changes. It becomes more real and more natural. It changes with
a very clear eye to Whom God is and who we are. It changes from
knowledge born of love and security.
A final little word here about the angels. We are in the sight
of "the Godhead and His angels." Protestant churches which would
not approve of prayer to saints can find ample Scriptural bases for
praying to angels! Again and again we see people conversing with
God's messengers in the Bible. Hence, don't waste 'em! None of us is
so rich as to afford to ignore friends!
Let the angels help. Ask them to help you on your road. The briefest
glance at their Scriptural track record will show one that that is something
they are very good at! Ditto protection. I ask the angels to guard the houses
of all on my prayer list every single night- as well as protect my chickens from
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]