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Holy Rule for Aug. 31

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of baby Alexander, 2 days old, for whom we prayed. He has gone to God; and for his grieving parents
    Message 1 of 228 , Aug 30, 2008
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      Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of baby Alexander, 2 days old, for whom we prayed. He has gone to God; and for his grieving parents and family.

      Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

      Karen, for success in her computer class and that she and her property be protected from harm in the dangerous environment in which she currently lives.

      Mark H. who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.... he
      was operated on this past week and faces a long recovery with chemo therapy
      to follow. Prayers that he will be open to God's grace.

      Doris for healing from a minor health problem. Brian, for direction. CM, for strength and courage in vocation choices.

      Steve, for his job search.

      Both my parents are long deceased, but today would have been their
      67th wedding anniversary, so prayers, please, for Jerome and Louise, who first
      gave me some of what I am able to pass on to others, who also first
      took me to St. Leo Abbey. That opened a lifelong love of both St.
      Leo and Benedictinism for me. How much I owe them! For their happy
      deaths, eternal rest and Deo gratias!

      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

      May 1, August 31, December 31
      Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
      Established in This Rule

      Now we have written this Rule
      in order that by its observance in monasteries
      we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
      and the rudiments of the religious life.

      But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
      there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
      the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
      For what page or what utterance
      of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
      is not a most unerring rule for human life?
      Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
      does not loudly proclaim
      how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
      Then the Conferences and the Institutes
      and the Lives of the Fathers,
      as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
      what else are they but tools of virtue
      for right-living and obedient monks?
      But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
      they are a source of shame and confusion.

      Whoever you are, therefore,
      who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
      fulfill with the help of Christ
      this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
      and then at length under God's protection
      you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
      which we have mentioned above.


      I used to love to teach 8th graders. At the top of a kindergarten
      through 8th grade school, they thought they had REALLY arrived, they
      were very pleased with themselves! My 8th graders knew that I loved
      them, so I could afford to tease them a bit. I used to narrow my
      into a fake menacing gaze and say: "Ah, now you're the top, but next
      year? Next year you will be FRESHMEN! The lowest of the low! Just
      wait till high school." And they would laugh, secure in the fact
      I MUST be joking....

      Well, folks, the beauty of this last chapter is that is tells us we
      are ALL eighth graders, if even that. We'd do well to take St.
      Benedict seriously on this one, but I'll bet he smiled with the same
      affection I used to show to my kids. Three times a year we read the
      Holy Rule entirely and three times a year he lovingly shakes us
      to the reality that we will for all of our lives, always be
      freshmen next

      That's the Benedictine surprise that's wrapped in conversion of
      manners: we never "arrive", we're not so hot as we thought ourselves
      to be, we are just barely ready for the next step.
      This is VERY different from the self-loathing we spoke about
      yesterday with the bitter zeal. This is the true self-knowledge, the
      smiling, even shrugging acceptance of the fact that we are just on
      the way, nothing special there!

      How great must our God be! I have never known anyone who kept all of
      the Holy Rule perfectly, but I have known many that I thought were
      great saints, very observant monastics. St. Benedict is clearly
      telling us that God is even more than we may attain by observing

      God is so vast and beyond us, we are always taking the tumbling
      first steps of toddlers towards Him, but He is always holding on and
      beaming with the pride an love of a parent guiding those steps. Our
      Holy Rule is filled with awesome things, yet it is only
      the "rudiments" of the spiritual life!

      Eighth graders, eighth graders all, but ah, what a high school

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB

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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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        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        Petersham, MA

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