Holy Rule for Oct. 1
Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Sean, 38, who died suddenly this week, and for Rebecca and Connor and Dan and all his family, and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following and for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Buzz and Cate on their upcoming 30th anniversary, and for Buzz's diabetes.
a young Dad having a rare and serious heart surgery
Don, also preparing for heart surgery.
John, who is slowly dying with cancer that has invaded his whole spine and is just as slowly taking his eyesight, prayers that he turns to the God of Love who he always claimed that he doesn't believe in.
Brian, to be ordained deacon on Oct. 3.
Abbot Francis, for continued health and recovery from his knee surgery, also for Fr. Werner, 94, who has been moved to hospice.
One who has been accused of a crime he did not commit. He is now in jail on suicide-watch, and facing trial.
Kathie, diagnosed with breast cancer. The complete pathology report is not yet back, but from the MRI it appears to be an aggressive cancer. She is having a mastectomy on 10/14 with chemo to follow.
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 31, June 1, October 1
Chapter 7: On Humility
The third degree of humility is that a person
for love of God
submit himself to his Superior in all obedience,
imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle says,
"He became obedient even unto death."
Merton once wrote "Love is the the Rule." That's what we can so often
miss. One obeys out of love, love of God. Trust my limited experience
here, please, there is no human being on earth whose tool kit is so
complete that one can joyously follow and obey them without any
reserve or hesitation, not one. On a purely human level, that would be
most unwise. But we are not dealing with a human level here.
We do follow without hesitation, but we do it for love, not for wisdom.
We do it for love, not for taste or class or savoir faire. We do it for love,
not because the superior is brilliant or right or gifted in any way. We
don't do it because of the superior at all, if we are going about things
the right way. Our obedience must be consistent, as must our faith, no
matter who is in charge. We do it for love, for love of God.
Anything less than love of God as a motive will fall flat on its
face, and sooner rather than later! It never takes long. Life itself,
within the cloister or without, is full of so much purblind stupidity
and outright rubbish that nothing else could sustain one other than love
of God. None but God can guarantee one's safety in holiness
in the midst of such a situation. It truly is Him we obey.
When one is younger, one can often play "Father or Mother knows
best." (Superiors who are control freaks may love and encourage this
ploy, even as a life script. Not wise...) That's not the point and it
usually doesn't work for long either.
Mother or Father sometimes quite pointedly know nothing at all. The will
of God comes through to us in spite of them, not because they are
wise or stupid, but because of love, God's love for us and for them. Many,
many people in the church do the will of God for reasons that have nothing
to do with God!
They do it unwittingly, they may even do it cruelly or wrong-headedly, but
that hardly matters. I think there is a mystical point where the love
and will of God for one cannot ultimately be thwarted, where it is
actually advanced by humans who have not a clue what they are doing.
We do it for love, and that love will shield us, regardless, in the
armor of His will and of His infinite Divine Mercy which surrounds us.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]