Holy Rule for Dec. 4
Prayers, please, for the spiritual. mental and physical health of the folloiwng, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Betty, very near death from cancer in another state, while her Mother is rushing from Florida to hopefully see her one last time.
Kristen, in labor for delivery of her daughter.
Elaine's Dad, very ill with Alzheimer's and a very diffcult family situation.
Lord, help them 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 4, August 4, December 4
Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests
Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
for He is going to say,
"I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.
As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
let the Superior or the brethren meet him
with all charitable service.
And first of all let them pray together,
and then exchange the kiss of peace.
For the kiss of peace should not be offered
until after the prayers have been said,
on account of the devil's deceptions.
In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
let all humility be shown.
Let the head be bowed
or the whole body prostrated on the ground
in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.
After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
and then let all kindness be shown him.
The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
unless it happens to be a principal fast day
which may not be violated.
The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
"We have received Your mercy, O God,
in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).
In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
for as far as the rich are concerned,
the very fear which they inspire
wins respect for them.
So much is written about Benedictine hospitality that I thought,
after over eleven years of caring for the guesthouse, I'd write about
some of the
things it is NOT, since people sometimes seem confused by this. Yes,
we are told to receive all as Christ, but at the onset a salient
difference or two between Christ Himself and the guests becomes
evident. Christ was sinless, Christ was not a threat to others,
Christ was perfect in mind and body and soul.
One of the first things that happened when the care of the guesthouse
was entrusted to me was the receipt of a list of people who in no way
were ever to be accepted again. For one reason or another, the
community absolutely did not want them here again. A few- very few-
more have added themselves to that list in my time. It is useful to
note that in every case these people put either themselves or others
or both at risk for one reason or another. There were some the
monastics were downright afraid of, others whom other guests would
have feared had they only known.
One absolutely stunned into silence an entire group of retreatants of
which she was not a member by an outburst of verbally violent abuse
and belligerence that none had seen coming at all. She really ruined
the retreat for them, destroyed everyone's peace and the peace of the
house. Everyone walked on eggs for the rest of the weekend. Sorry,
doesn't happen here twice.
Another guest used to come here on the bus immediately after
discharge from psychiatric facilities. He was a potential violence
threat and would stop taking his meds on discharge, thinking he could
come to the monastery and "get it all together." Obviously,
disastrously, what happened was quite the reverse and we finally had
to say that we would never accept him again without the opportunity
and freedom to speak with his psychiatrist. He has not been back. We
were not at all doing him any good, we were actually helping him harm
himself. Couldn't do that.
Far short of the psychotic, there comes a time in human relationships
when we are obliged to stop enabling harm to oneself or to others.
There comes a time when dysfunction must be named and not embraced.
That doesn't mean rejection of the person or unkindness, but it does
that sometimes we have to set conditions which reject patterns of
behavior. For example, "I love you, but I will not deal with you
when you are
This is where all of us come in, not just the guesthouse. People can
become toxic to each other. The fact that they may be unwell is
sometimes no more of a moral issue than the young man off meds. He
was truly sick, but I had two elderly ladies on retreat in the house
that I couldn't explain that to. Sick, while informative, was not the
deciding factor. So it often is with dysfunction, too. Being unwell
in any degree does not involve an unlimited license to harm.
One can demonstrate this principle clearly by going even a notch
above the guesthouse: come to join the monastery addicted to
disrupting the peace and you will be escorted out, probably well
People do not enjoy Benedictine hospitality as an always
and everywhere right. As in any human area, the rights of others must
be considered and sometimes decisively so. A monastery is a haven of
peace, but it has to take steps to ensure that it remains that for as
many as possible.
One of those steps is the hospitality of saying "No
more." It is not easy, but it is loving. I can tell you from
experience that those hearing the "no more" will quite often rail at
it and at you, terming you unloving, un-Christian, un-Benedictine
and worse. That's hard to take, but don't buckle. As Dorothy Day
so often said, "Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us,
of any of us, but it is the only answer."
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Nina, admitted to hospice, and for her husband, Larry, who also has health concerns, and for their children and family and all who will mourn Nina.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Abbot Benno Malfer, OSB, of Muri-Gries Abbey, 70, and for his family, Community and all who mourn him.
Prayers for safe travels for Peter D., going to Europe. For a safe, happy and holy trip.
Prayers for the eternal rest of my parents, Jerome and Louise, on what would have been the 76th anniversary of their wedding.
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
eyes 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
that 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
awake to the reality that we will for all of our lives, always be
freshmen next year!
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!
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 and 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,