Holy Rule for Sept. 30
Prayers, please, for my late Dad and grandfather, and yeah, even for me, on our feastday of St. Jerome, and prayers for all our Jeromes. Special prayers for two Oblate Jeromes who took the name for me, much to my joy and delight.
Prayers of huge thanks and Deo gratias: the couple who were going to have their baby without medical assiatnce went to the ER when labor got going. Good thing they did, as complications arose which may well have resulted in loss of both Mother and baby. God is good!
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Larry, 54, is undergoing Chemo-therapy for Merckle cell carcinoma. This is a very rare form of cancer, and the prognosis isn't good. He's undergone 3 days of chemo and was expected to have the 2nd round starting Monday Sept. 29, but his platelets aren't high enough, so they've canceled this session till he can increase them.
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 30, May 31, September 30
Chapter 7: On Humility
The second degree of humility
is that a person love not his own will
nor take pleasure in satisfying his desires,
but model his actions on the saying of the Lord,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).
It is written also,
"Self-will has its punishment,
but constraint wins a crown."
OK, who doesn't love their own will, or take pleasure in satisfying
their desires? Who doesn't love their individuality or some of the
dearest things they own and treasure? For a healthy person, all of
these are very normal loves. For some of us, one or another of these
loves is very much part of our vocation, for example, in marriage
one's sexuality is the very means of self-gift. The key is to keep
them ordinate, in line and yes, balanced!
The means to this step is neither to go overboard hunting for things
we hate to afflict ourselves with nor to insist on our own way at all
costs. The real meaning here is found in the statement that Christ
came not to do His own will, but the will of His Father. With the exception
of fasting, we don't see Jesus going out His way to find things distasteful to
Him, nor do we see Him stoically and resolutely refusing to enjoy things that
please Him. His will is one with the Father's. He also has a human nature
that prayed in Gethsemane to be spared from that Divine will, but, in
Jesus, the human nature is perfectly obedient to the will of His Father, so He
can never sin.
Alas, in us, that human will often DOES win: why else would we be
struggling along the monastic way all our lives? Unlike Jesus, we are
not sinless, we are able to sin and often do so all too gladly! We
must daily- even from minute to minute- turn from the bad in our own
wills. It is an ongoing fight, but that is what conversatio morum
means, "conversion of manner of life"! As Benedictines we will-
indeed, must- always be straining against the negative goad, always
be seeking the place of greater light and good.
The will of God is frequently very hard to see. For some of us, at
some times, it is all but impossible to see. There will always be
times when we must trundle along blindly, without our senses to
reassure us. That is why trust is such an integral part of our
monastic struggle. At those times, the only way haltingly forward is
to embrace the blinding darkness before us and firmly, trustingly
clutch the hand of Christ. Even in the darkness, we must say: "Jesus,
I trust in You!"
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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