Holy Rule for June 28
Prayers, please, for the s[piritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Dolly, soon to be invested as an Oblate novice.
Tony, 15, traumatic head injury, clots on his brain causing pressure. In ICU an soon to have surgery to remove a piece of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain; and for his parents and family.
Bobby, for his conversion and for the severe cold he has.
Deo gratias, Sam's surgery went well and they thank us for our prayers. Now, we need to pray for a quick and full recovery for him.
Deo gratias, Lesli, who breast biopsy we praye for, got benign results. No cancer.
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 27, June 28, October 28
Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery
If the community is a large one,
let there be chosen out of it
brethren of good repute and holy life,
and let them be appointed deans.
These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,
observing the commandments of God
and the instructions of their Abbot.
Let men of such character be chosen deans
that the Abbot may with confidence
share his burdens among them.
Let them be chosen not by rank
but according to their worthiness of life
and the wisdom of their doctrine.
If any of these deans should become inflated with pride
and found deserving of censure,
let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time.
If he will not amend,
then let him be deposed
and another be put in his place who is worthy of it.
And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.
Did anyone read this as I did at first, many years ago, and
wonder: "Why did St. Benedict give them an academic name
like "deans"? Well, it was probably the other way around! Since the
first schools were monastic ones, it is quite likely that the
term "dean" entered academia via the Holy Rule!
Surely the academic gown of today is a modified form of our Benedictine
choir robe, the cowl or cuculla. In fact, Benedictines used to wear their
cucullas with the appropriate academic hoods as their formal dress at
graduations and the like. With all due respect to the johnny-come-
latelies like the Dominicans, Franciscans and Jesuits, when they don
full academic regalia, they're wearing a derived form of our choir
But, enough of trivia...This chapter repeats another important
consideration in St. Benedict's plan: people are not to be
overburdened. This theme is less noticeable than the more important
ones of moderation and the like, but it is there. Again and again,
the Holy Rule says that people should have help with their charges,
certain officials should even be exempted from serving in the
Two things are going on here, both very important. Surely the first
is kindness, gentle consideration for human frailty. The second,
however, is every bit as defining and important: we are not our work,
we are not our jobs, our vocation and worth is only connected to such
things tangentially at best. Our motto is Work AND Prayer. The
message is that neither of these should make the other impossible.
This message is equally important for both choir monastics and
Oblates. If your work is so much that your prayer suffers, something
is wrong. However, especially true for those of us in the secular
world, if your prayer is so much that your job or children or
marriage suffers, something is REALLY wrong. If your work deprives
your family or spouse, it might be time to look at changing it, time
to rearrange goals and priorities a bit.
One of the occasional problems of modern life everywhere is not just
that we are too busy, but that we FOCUS too much attachment and will
on stuff that really doesn't matter. Examine and change that focus.
Picture your job today if you had died yesterday. The important stuff would
still get done by someone else. The rest, your own agenda, would go merrily
down the tubes. Well, learn from that!
A LOT of our own agendas are worth little more than that: going down the
tubes. So why waste so much time and spiritual and emotional energy on
them? As it does so frequently, the Holy Rule and Benedictine life tell us:
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]