Holy Rule for Dec. 3
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and phsyical health of the following, for all their loved ones and for all who take care of them:
Roger, advanced pancreatic cancer which has spread. Has only a short time to live. Prayers for his wife Mary and all of his family. Prayers for his happy death, too.
Prayers for Elaine's Dad, Charlie, who is very sick and weak and being brought to the hospital right now, that God's Will be done.
Prayers for Br. Augustine, recently out of ICU
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
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.
"...let nothing else be done there or kept there." Don't think for a
moment this refers to only furniture, storage or other activities. It
refers to our hearts, too. We must be terribly careful of what we
take into the oratory, what we carry in our hearts, because it not
only colors our prayer, but often the prayer of those around us as
Even half-aware people who live together for years can spot
trouble immediately. They may not know what is wrong, but they are
themselves disquieted by it. Often one never finds out what is
troubling another, so one just prays for them. But the empathy, the
sympathy that moves one to do so by observation has colored the
oratory experience ever so slightly from one of untrammeled peace.
Sometimes we honestly cannot help what we carry in our hearts. I know
that all too well. There have been times when I could scarcely calm
the cacophonic roar of anxiety and hurt. For me, as I am sure for
some others, too, it is all but impossible to pray at such times, through
no fault of our own. So long as we do not will such distraction, our
prayer remains intact. Involuntary distractions are crosses to be borne with
patience, not sins we should become despondent about. Despondency
is a far greater enemy of the spiritual life than distracted prayer!
Do your best to stay focused, if you cannot, offer that to God, too,
and rejoice that you have been humbled by it. Depressives and others
with certain mental illnesses should recall that inability to
concentrate is often part of the disease, not our fault at all. If a cut bleeds,
do we feel guilty? Of course not. Many of us who suffer from such things
are already far too prone to beat ourselves up. Don't let distractions
at prayer that you didn't want and couldn't help be a reason for that.
I resolve to be a bit more careful to try to empty my heart whenever
I can, but I sometimes cannot. Nothing seems clear or right. So I
just say: "Look, maybe what I am offering You really is nothing at
all, maybe I shouldn't even dare. If it is nothing, please forgive
me. If it's not, please take it for whatever it is worth." Sometimes
that's the best we can do.
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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