Holy Rule for Oct. 2
- A blessed feast of the Holy Guardian Angels to all, prayers especially for all
members of the American Cassinese Congregation today, as this is their patronal
feast. May all our Guardian Angels watch over us and bring us ever closer to
God's perfect will for us.
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of the following and for all who mourn them:
Fr. Werner, 94, of Valyermo, St. Andrew's Abbey.
Ken who we prayed for several weeks ago. He passed away this Sunday from cancer. For his wife Sue, mom Myra, and two brothers and a sister and for all who mourn him.
continued prayers: Many thanks for all the prayers for Dave who lost an arm in the car crash. His progress has been very rapid and he has been moved to a nursing home. He will begin some limited therapy now and more when his leg finishes healing. The hospital staff helped arrange for his care at the nursing home as he has no health insurance. Deo Gratias!
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
February 1, June 2, October 2
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fourth degree of humility
is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away.
For the Scripture says,
"The one who perseveres to the end,
is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
"Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!
And to show how those who are faithful
ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
"For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom.
Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
they go on with joy to declare,
"But in all these trials we conquer,
through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
Again, in another place the Scripture says,
"You have tested us, O God;
You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
You have brought us into a snare;
You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
it goes on to say,
"You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).
Moreover, by their patience
those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
in adversities and injuries:
when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
when forced to go a mile, they go two;
with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).
The stumbling block here is the part about holding "fast to patience with
a silent mind." How on earth does one begin to do that? The trend in
consumerist Western society is pretty much to form people- no, let's
call them what consumerism does: "consumers"- in a mold that ALWAYS
listens to very noisy minds. That, after all, is the root of desire
and consumption (clever play on words there! Just think of the old
name for tuberculosis,) and profit. Nothing else matters as much to a
It's not surprising that living, moving and having our being in such
waters, we more or less acquire consumerist gills in order to
breathe. However, the Gospel itself, as well as the Holy Rule, tells
us that we must adopt a view which contradicts that of the secular
world. Learning to do this is neither easy nor fast.
The really hard thing here is that sometimes, even when we are right,
we have to put up and shut up, so to speak. The Rule speaks of
bearing injustice and false brethren. There are no qualifiers here
that say: "You may think it is unjust, but the truth is otherwise."
No, sometimes we must actually endure stuff that really is unjust,
endure people that truly are false. As one very wise old monk of
Pluscarden once said: "Some things will only be fixed by a cross in
the cemetery." That is frighteningly true. Some people, some
dysfunctions will go unchecked and there are only two things one can
do about it: leave or endure.
This may feel like denial to us. It isn't. That's not what's asked of
us. I may think I know very clearly that a person or situation is
wrong, really know it, but what is asked of me is to react in a
particularly controlled fashion, "with a silent mind."
There is a big issue about judgment here. We are not to judge. We
often think we can "assess" when we truly cannot. It is better to
wisely abstain from such "assessments". We never have all the facts
of another person's heart or soul, never. That's why we have been
told not to judge.
Jesus did say, after all, that He is the Truth. He is not calling us
to stupidity or denial, but He can well afford to call us to silent
endurance. The briefest look at Jesus in His Passion can affirm His
rights there. There was never a greater injustice done than that, nor
was there ever a victim so innocent and completely undeserving of all
Why is the "silent mind" such a big deal? Because you cannot get
anywhere spiritually without one. Your focus will be shattered. The
messy bit here is that your focus can be shattered by things
apparently worthwhile- the devil, after all is no amateur at duping us.
We can be tricked into spinning our wheels and expending all our
emotional and spiritual energy on dead ends that look noble, or on
things that truly are noble, but should not absorb all of our efforts
or attention. We can distort our necessary caring and charity into
anger and rage at injustice that does nothing other than perpetrate
anger and rage in more religious attire. Big mistake there! We are
to love, love and always love!
I can recall some awful flame wars on religious lists about religious
topics. Predictably, quite early on the tone stooped to hurling
charges at people, not ideas. Whoops! Wrong way, folks. The holiest
monks I know would not have even entered into that discussion. They
would have smiled and maybe shrugged and gone to their room to read
That's not denial, that's a fair assessment that Brother David Gormican,
OSB, (the elderly monk I have in mind,) of Saint Leo would have made
correctly. Br. David was a very, very holy nobody and he knew that. It was a
freeing knowledge, one I completely lacked when I first lived with him. It
was his strong sense of "nobodiness" that made him someone extremely special
At 18, I thought entering into heated argument was the thing to do. It was
1967 and there was no shortage of such heat in the monastery or the Church.
Br. David, quite rightly, knew that it would result in a night (or a whole
day) of strife and nothing would be changed. David knew that a hidden
lay brother in Florida was not going to change the Church at all by
fighting with other people who were similarly powerless. Praying,
maybe, but fighting, no! He was humble enough to know this and go to
his room. How I wish I had been that smart- then or now!
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]