Holy Rule for July 1
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of the following, for all their loved ones and for all who take care of them:
Justin, starting a new job on Tuesday and his daughter Paige who is sick and has earache but won't be covered by Medical Aid until Tuesday. That the sale of their house goes well while they look for a house to rent until their next one comes onto the market - whenever that is.
Fr. Benet, OSB , for whom we prayed. He has contracted pneumonia while in recovery for open heart surgery.
Safe travels for Brendan and Basil.
Rendie, for strength and healing for her and then for special intentions for her 5yr old son, Dominic. She is in need of serious prayer the next several weeks.
Rosy and her children. A situation has arisen in the last few days that could seriously affect her relationship with her children. There is somebody who wants to disclose certain events from her past life. This has devestated her, and caused me a lot of pain and would cause a lot of problems for all. She has also had some tests run recently for some health issues.
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
March 1, July 1, October 31
Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be
The measure of excommunication or of chastisement
should correspond to the degree of fault,
which degree is estimated by the judgment of the Abbess.
If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults,
let her be excluded from the common table.
Now the program for one deprived of the company of the table
shall be as follows:
In the oratory she shall intone neither Psalm nor antiphon
nor shall she recite a lesson
until she has made satisfaction;
in the refectory she shall take her food alone
after the community meal,
so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance,
that sister shall eat at the ninth,
while if they eat at the ninth hour
she shall eat in the evening,
until by a suitable satisfaction she obtains pardon.
Ever run over something unintentionally with a lawnmower? Most of us
have. If you personally have never done such a thing, it would be
far less upsetting to me if you never said so... LOL! Think about it.
Who, in their right mind, would deliberately take a mower that is
costly to repair or replace and aim for an obstacle in the grass?
Face it, while there could be malevolence here, it is very unlikely.
Yet the only case of this lighter excommunication of which I have
personal knowledge was just this dumb. In the mid-1960's, a junior
monk I knew ran over a water sprinkler while mowing in the Grotto at
Saint Leo. (I have been visiting St. Leo since 1957, the Grotto is
one of my favorite places and I STILL could not tell you where all
the water sprinklers are. It is a wooded and confusing area.) The guy
didn't mean to do it and, as far as I know, admitted his guilt,
turned himself in. Sigh... he got this light excommunication for a
while as punishment.
That was one of the problems with "excommunication" (which, by the
way, refers only to communal life, not to the Church or its
Sacraments.) It was often used for silly, innocent mistakes,
unintentional accidents. In cases like the one I noted, it often
stressed the material above the personal. Obviously, the greatest
treasure of the monastery was the monastic, not the water sprinkler!
It could, as such, lack mercy and fall far short of the Gospel,
something the Holy Rule, rightly interpreted, will never call us to
do. Also, since it can be quite irrational punishment, it is hardly
constructive of healthy family bonds!
As so often happens, we abandon one lunacy only to flee madly to its
opposite extreme. We went from too much to too little, sometimes
nothing at all. In the last 35 years or so, I have heard of only one
threat of excommunication and it did not have to be carried out,
thank heavens. Still, we have abandoned the good that was in the
practice: a clear, codified way to let someone know they were out of
line, that something was wrong, that they needed help or reform or
We replaced this (allegedly,) with talking to the individual, a sane
enough response, except that some superiors find this hard, almost
impossible to do well. That's not surprising, given the monastic
aversion to conflict and confrontation. But it is CONFLICT we should
avoid, not loving confrontation. We're called to a lot of the latter. It is
the stuff of which reform and conversion is often generated. The
Rule's system, for all its faults, gave a "language" and idiom to a
superior who may not have been able to "say" it any other way. It
eased the road for the timid.
Take that away, and you have no means of correction in some settings.
Both these extremes are founded on the same false assumption. Both
ascribe to offenders more control over their actions than may
actually be the case. Small wonder neither extreme works terribly well.
Just talking to someone is fine as an alternative, but one has to
actually do it. Some problems in people will neither identify nor
repair themselves. It is folly to think that they will, to presume
that all people have a level of clairvoyance or maturity that many,
in fact, do not.
Not only that, but as the Rule itself points out, some people cannot
understand or "hear" a verbal correction. Things have not changed
as much in the intervening 15 centuries as we might like to think they have.
Some still can't hear. We still need a humane middle point between
nothing and something very extreme.
Parents take warning. Embrace either of these extremes and your
children will be talking about you many, many years later, to
therapists or in bars, or both! Ditto bosses and superiors. Your job
is the exact and complete opposite of ignoring major flaws, of
letting things like that go. If your head is in the sand on any
significant count, everyone in the family suffers including,
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for the safe release of Fr. Chito and 13 others held hostage by militants in Marawi, Philippines. Prayers, too, for the eternal rest of the police chief there, who was beheaded, and for his family and all who mourn him. Prayers for the conversion and repentance of his killers and all the attackers. Prayers for all those affected in any way and for peace in this troubled region.
Prayers for our Sr. Christine, whose 20th anniversary of solemn vows was yesterday, graces galore and many more, ad multos annos!
Sue asked prayers for all who suffer hearing loss.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. John Brioux, OMI, and for his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Peter D’Alesandre, and for his family and all who mourn him, especially Rachel.
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 25, May 26, September 25
Chapter 7: On Humility
Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying,
"Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,
and he who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
In saying this it shows us
that all exaltation is a kind of pride,
against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard
when he says,
"Lord, my heart is not exalted,
nor are mine eyes lifted up;
neither have I walked in great matters,
nor in wonders above me."
But how has he acted?
"Rather have I been of humble mind
than exalting myself;
as a weaned child on its mother's breast,
so You solace my soul" (Ps. 130:1-2).
if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility
and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation
to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life,
by our ascending actions
erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream,
on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending.
By that descent and ascent
we must surely understand nothing else than this,
that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.
And the ladder thus set up is our life in the world,
which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled.
For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder,
and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted
the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.
Today we begin St. Benedict's exhaustive treatment of humility.
Humility and obedience are so closely linked that it is virtually
impossible to speak of one without adding the other. Since both are
essential Benedictine virtues, it is easy to say that there is no
such thing as a holy Benedictine who has not climbed or is not
climbing this ladder. I have never known a holy monk who was not
humble, in fact, it was usually their most outstanding trait.
A lot of this chapter will grate on modern ears. I will be the first
to admit that some people need assertiveness training. However, in my
experience, most of us do not. Most of us manage to be assertive on a
daily- even hourly- basis without much difficulty. Remember, too,
that modern psychology is a science which, like all science, is
limited to observable data.
Hence, it is not surprising that the generalities of psychology deal
with relations between people and visible, created things. The catch
here is that the humility St. Benedict speaks of is rooted in
relationship of humans to God, a sphere in which psychology often
finds itself woefully out of its element. It can see some things
amiss, but not all. It lacks the supernatural basis of faith, and
this impedes it in this area. Balance, always balance.
A quickie on the Psalm quote today: "...neither have I walked in
great matters, nor in matters above me." This would appeal to
Brother Patrick Creamer, my late mentor. He learned to do it quite
well and in just 45 years or so!! Say a special prayer for Patrick's
eternal rest with God.
I speak as one who has been all too focused at many times on the
monastic soap opera, its hand-wringing tempests in teacups. About
many things, even most, we must learn simply not to meddle, not to
trouble ourselves with matters too great, even though we may have to
call them "great" with an inner, rueful chuckle.
You will never have peace until you learn to leave all that alone, to
distrust it for the empty and tragic charade that it truly is. And
you will never get anywhere if you don't have peace. The road to that
peace is humility and love, both effective vaccinations against the
fatal disease of power.
Love and prayers,