Holy Rule for Aug. 3
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and phsyical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who treat them:
Izak, child with cancer.
Gloria, who recently suffered a fall and has badly injured her shoulder. She sees a surgeon on Tuesday, and her doctor has told her there may be nothing that can be done.
Prayers of thanksgiving for Barb's son Brian who starts a new job today and is
taking his medicine. Please pray for her husbands return to the Faith, and
for her Mom's house to sell and for important decisions her husband and she must
make concerning buying land, selling our house where we work and live etc.
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 3, August 3, December 3
Chapter 52: On the Oratory of the Monastery
Let the oratory be what it is called, a place of prayer;
and let nothing else be done there or kept there.
When the Work of God is ended,
let all go out in perfect silence,
and let reverence for God be observed,
so that any sister who may wish to pray privately
will not be hindered by another's misconduct.
And at other times also,
if anyone should want to pray by herself,
let her go in simply and pray,
not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart.
She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore,
shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory
when the Work of God is ended,
lest another be hindered, as we have said.
Would to God that the oratories of our hearts were as easy to keep
clean as those of our monasteries! Having been sacristan, in my
youth, of the large and lovely Abbey Church at St. Leo, FL, I can
assure you that Benedictines tend to be very good about this part of
the Holy Rule. One usually gets a Church in good condition and it is
not too hard to keep it that way. In fact, doing so was only one of
my several charges at the time!
Ah, but those cardiac oratories! How easily they can get cluttered
and more or less stay that way! God alone knows how many times I have
written books or articles, essays or posts in mid-prayer, how many
times I have "capably and completely" reformed Order or monastery,
Church, liturgy or world! I certainly hope He isn't counting too
closely, and I have a fairly good feeling that He isn't. One of the
Desert Fathers said that, if God counts distractions in psalmody, no one
could be saved!
The aim is good, beloveds, but about the time I envision my heart
dancing in pure prayer like Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in the
moonlit park, Jerome's Jezebel of a heart petulantly clumps out in a
sleazy mini-skirt, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels. My jaded
streetwalker of a heart is the easy and willing prey of a wide field
of distractions and infidelities! Jerome's Jezebel heart is a harlot
But, m'dears, and hopefully to lesser degree than my own, ALL of our
hearts have that Jezebel lurking within, dying to be asked to dance,
dancing alone, if need be! No smooth sophistication of a fox trot to
Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter for us. Nope! Many times, the
best we can do is stumble about disorientedly to a musically barren
gangsta rap, whose harsh dissonance and strident attacks of
percussion all too closely mirror our chaotic world.
Calm down! The Divine Aim of our poor hearts is their Author and
Maker. Better than anyone and FAR better than ourselves, He knows the
limitations of His creations! How often God must be like a tender and
loving and delighted Mother who tries with all Her might to keep from
laughing at a child's graceless attempts at being exquisite grace.
Truly, in many a stumbling child there is GREAT poetry in motion, but
not at all in the way that the child THINKS there is! So it is with
God and ourselves. Relax, therefore, and rejoice! Again I say,
The great and merciful God flat out delights in our clumsy efforts
and knows from the start that we shall be far more like funny home
videos than the best and most tasteful films ever produced. Funny how
we often lack the humility to see that ourselves! If we seek to gain
it, Satan, who loves to see us despondent and discouraged, will be
trounced but good.
It is our efforts which delight God, not our results. He knows that
the results we seek are far beyond many of us. The more clearly we
come to know that, the more adequate our sense of our own abject
poverty of skills, the greater our peace shall be. And in that peace
we shall find God, the loving parent on Whose long-suffering insteps
we tiptoe and dance, in Whose tender arms we swoon like children
dreaming of a grand ballroom with mirrors!
Oh, yeah, ESPECIALLY the mirrors part!!
Love and prayers and a fox trot or two!
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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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