Holy Rule for July 30
Prayers for St. Anne's intercession, on a very significant 31st anniversary for one of our
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.
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,
[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,