Holy Rule for Aug. 2
I have an early lab appointment in the morning, so am sending this out early.
Roman Catholics please remember that Aug. 2 is the Portiuncula indulgence. Plenary indulgence under the usual conditions for a visit to any parish Church and prayers for the Holy Father's intentions, applicable, of course, to the Holy Souls, too.
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Joe, 40's, several recurrences of testicular cancer, now on chemo, special prayers his chemo will work.
Prayers have been asked for Joan and her husband Bob with congestive heart
failure. Also, Joan's granddaughter, Caitlyn, whom we prayed
for through back surgery last year, is suddenly unable to see out of one eye
and it is burning. This has been going on since last Friday.
For Kim, whose husband was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is in
his late 30's and they have 3 children age 9 - 15. They rely on her income
and with her position she struggles out the door every day and back home
late at night. All the while overwhelmed with the reality of the situation.
Richard, he is under a tremendous amount of stress at his job. He is starting to look for a new one but in this economy, it will be tough.
Toni-Marie, 4 1/2, has been complaining for the last week about her back hurting. The
pain is really on the spine at the base of her neck. She was diagnosed and treated in 2006 for Chiari Syndrome, Dr. has ordered an MRI for tomorrow on her head and spine. There is a possibility that fluid is collecting in her spine. She has also complained about having Chiari headaches again.
Fr. Vernon, S.J.,who is recovering from a stroke this past April. He has no physical affects, but what he describes as cognitive disorder - probably a greater cross to bear since he was a scholar of religion and psychology.
Izak, a very young lad suffering from 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
April 2, August 2, December 2
Chapter 51: On Brethren Who Go Not Very Far Away
A Brother who is sent out on some business
and is expected to return to the monastery that same day
shall not presume to eat while he is out,
even if he is urgently requested to do so
by any person whomsoever,
unless he has permission from his Abbot.
And if he acts otherwise, let him be excommunicated.
Remember that cloistered paradise of the heart I have written about
before? All Benedictines, monks, nuns and oblates, must cultivate
that monastic heart. Today's chapter is an excellent example.
Like our Christianity itself, our Benedictinism must become part of
us, rooted in our hearts, carried with us everywhere because it is
inseparable from us. While the issue in this chapter is keeping the
monastic who goes outside vigilant, mindful and observant, there is a
particular application to oblates here. This concept of carrying the
monastery with us becomes a principal means of evangelization, of
being leaven in the dough of the world, of being a catalyst for peace.
Remember that the Holy Rule teaches us that the observance of some
things becomes easier with time. Happy the day when one wakes to find
that even the smallest part of one's Benedictine struggle has become
one's very self, an integral part of who one is. This realization
will likely sneak up on one and catch us quite unawares, surprised by
joy, as it were, to steal C. S. Lewis' phrase.
With God's mercy and grace, those areas will increase over time. More
and more we actually become the monastic we have been striving to be.
That, beloveds, is an awesome feeling of joy, to say nothing of
considerable relief!! Truly, m'dears, we shall one day, with God's help,
"run in the way of His commandments with hearts enlarged."
What St. Benedict is doing is pointing out that monasticism is not
merely a job, a burden one doffs and dons. Monastic life is a
becoming, not a set of standards one only follows when one is closely
watched. The goal of monastic discipline is to make the disciple a
monastic more or less by nature.
In this respect, it closely resembles any training: nursing school is
designed to make people nurses, law school to make attorneys,
and so forth. The difference is that monasticism is not a set number of
hours per week, it's all the week, all the life. Just as any nurse in a
disaster instantly can shift into nursing mode, whether on duty or not,
the spiritually trained monastic is operative everywhere, not just in
This is a fine and consoling point for Oblates who must live abroad.
Lovely though our monasteries may be, they are not what makes us
monastics. That is something deep within, a cloister of our hearts
that we must learn to carry with us everywhere. Lots of people who
must live in crowded and noisy cities actually do a better job of
this than many monastics who live in rural peace. Take heart! It is
not all about place. It is about heart, always heart. Train and fix
your heart and you will always be fine!
Love and prayers,
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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,
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