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Holy Rule for July 30

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for St. Anne s intercession, on a very significant 31st anniversary for one of our readers. Prayers for Julie, on her birthday. Lord, help us all
    Message 1 of 228 , Jul 29, 2008
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      +PAX

      Prayers for St. Anne's intercession, on a very significant 31st anniversary for one of our
      readers.

      Prayers for Julie, on her birthday.

      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 30, July 30, November 29
      Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

      On Sundays, let all occupy themselves in reading,
      except those who have been appointed to various duties.
      But if anyone should be so negligent and shiftless
      that she will not or cannot study or read,
      let her be given some work to do
      so that she will not be idle.

      Weak or sickly sisters should be assigned a task or craft
      of such a nature as to keep them from idleness
      and at the same time not to overburden them or drive them away
      with excessive toil.
      Their weakness must be taken into consideration by the Abbess.

      REFLECTION

      Work in the corporate world is, for the most part, governed by two
      principles: profit and profit. Sigh... Work in the monastery is very
      different at its roots. Monastics work out of communal need and to
      avoid idleness. That means, put another way, that sometimes monastic
      labor is nothing more than "Keep 'em busy." That's OK in a monastic
      milieu, where the bottom line is not cost-efficiency.

      One reason so many Oblates are frustrated in trying to apply too much
      of the Holy Rule to their lives in the world is that it simply will
      not fit. Not only is the rationale of monastic labor radically
      different, but so is its schedule. Contemplative monasteries usually
      have about 20-25 hours of work per week, not 40. That may sound quite
      easy, until one considers the fact that about 5 hours a day are spent
      in choir and another two hours in lectio, with no weekends off!
      That's roughly 47 hours a week right there, add 20 to that and you
      get a 67 hour week. No, it is not all unbelievably hard and yes, you
      do get to work at home, but not on your own schedule.

      Parents who work- even many who stay at home- have often put in a lot
      more than 67 hours a week; a sick child will instantly guarantee that
      they put in a few more, too! It is not humanly possible to add the
      whole of the Rule to such a life, because what would need trimming
      would be the duties of parenting and marriage, which have priority
      and must not be neglected.

      Our Holy Rule is a delicate balance, finely tuned. That balance is
      built around its own standards. It was not, in this respect, written
      for secular life at all. If you are retired or very independently
      wealthy, you might pull it off. Otherwise, you're going to wind up
      like Sisyphus of the Greek myth, who was condemned to push the same
      huge rock up the same hill forever, always watching it roll right
      back down. Don't do it, folks, it will destroy your peace.

      Even active monasteries have to trim and rearrange the Rule's program
      to make room for their apostolic endeavors. Anyone who has taught can
      tell you that it is NOT a 20 hour a week job. The same goes for
      hospital work, and teaching and nursing are two of the most usual
      works in which our monasteries are engaged. Often choir or the Psalm
      arrangement has to be adjusted and the Holy Rule provides for this.

      Don't try to make the demands of your secular life seem less than
      those of monasteries themselves. They aren't. They are often your
      first vocation, your "day job", if you will. Like it or not, for
      most Oblates, our Benedictine calling is in addition to some other
      vocation. Both must always be respected, if anything has to suffer,
      the primary vocation comes first. (Hence the name!)

      By now I think most of you know me well enough to realize that I
      spend the great bulk of my time and effort trying to explain to you
      how the Holy Rule IS applicable to daily life anywhere. This is one
      time, however- and there are sure to be others- when I have to tell
      you that it is NOT applicable fully. If you have a problem in this
      area, please listen carefully. Nobody wants to be like Sisyphus!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA





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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 228 of 228 , Jan 19, 2009
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        +PAX

        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
        immediately.
        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.

        REFLECTION


        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA

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