Re: [HolyRule] Holy Rule for Dec. 4
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Marie, 46, who left behind 4 children, two still teenagers, and for her best friend, Monica, a very hard loss, and for all who mourn Marie.
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Lukadia, being bullied at school, and for the conversion of the bully.
Brian, vocational discernment
John, hunting for employment after losing his job.
Prayers for one seeking a new place of worship and for a special intention.
Deo gratias, Kristen delivered Madeline Grace by C-section, prayers for Kristen as she developed a fever.
Deo gratias, Betty's Mom made it there in time, now a son is coming back from China, so continued prayers and prayers for Betty's happy death, which seems imminent short of a miracle.
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 5, August 5, December 5
Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests
Let there be a separate kitchen for the Abbot and guests,
that the brethren may not be disturbed when guests,
who are never lacking in a monastery,
arrive at irregular hours.
Let two brethren capable of filling the office well
be appointed for a year to have charge of this kitchen.
Let them be given such help as they need,
that they may serve without murmuring.
And on the other hand,
when they have less to occupy them,
let them go out to whatever work is assigned them.
And not only in their case
but in all the offices of the monastery
let this arrangement be observed,
that when help is needed it be supplied,
and again when the workers are unoccupied
they do whatever they are bidden.
The guest house also shall be assigned to a brother
whose soul is possessed by the fear of God.
Let there be a sufficient number of beds made up in it;
and let the house of God be managed by prudent men
and in a prudent manner.
On no account shall anyone who is not so ordered
associate or converse with guests.
But if he should meet them or see them,
let him greet them humbly, as we have said,
ask their blessing and pass on,
saying that he is not allowed to converse with a guest.
I am living proof that, when a monastery has to, it can get by with
less than a guestmaster "possessed by the fear of God." Some
days, "impressed by the fear of God" in others was about the best I
could pull off. There were other days when I took comfort in the fact
minimum the Holy Rule gives about the guest house itself is that
be a sufficient number of made-up beds and a kitchen of its own,
because frills beyond that were not likely to be forthcoming! But I
Asking that the house of God be prudently governed by the prudent
surely applies to more than the guest house. That principle goes for
the whole monastery, as well as for the families and homes of those
monastics in the world outside the cloister. This is not just another
call to frugality or economy or order for their own sakes. We are
Benedictines, we don't do ANYTHING for its own sake, except God!
The important reason behind this prudence and care is that we ARE
managing the House of God. All our Benedictine homes, our monasteries
and our guesthouses are the Houses of God. The humblest one-room
studio apartment of an Oblate is the House of God. How easily we
that, how commonly (the adverb is no accident here!) we think of
places as solely our own!
The whole idea of balance and peace and moderation and serenity is
nothing more or less than a singular setting for a pearl of very
great price. We need those things for our monastic struggle to be
most effective. Sometimes a surgeon might have to operate on a bloody
battlefield, but don't be surprised if infection follows. It's the
same with us and dysfunctional, imprudent messes.
We CAN operate there if we have to, but infections are likely. We
need a certain amount of reduction of inconsequential hassles to
focus on the one thing necessary. St. Benedict strives to provide us
with that. No, the monastery is not a sterile surgical suite (and I
always worry when one looks that way!) but neither is it an ill-
housed flock of free range chickens. Show me a monastery or home that
has become a chaotic mess and I can guarantee you there will be a
spiritual ramifications, as well.
We are not necessarily Thomists (though if memory serves me properly,
our Order conducted some of St. Thomas Aquinas' early schooling,) but
we can surely affirm that "peace is the tranquility of order." St.
Thomas' view of the virtues is important to us, too, imbued with the
principles of Aristotle: "Virtus in media stat." Virtue stands in the
middle way. What could be more Benedictinely moderate and balanced?
It must be clearly remembered that when we speak of "prudence", we
speak of a virtue, a thing of holiness and a golden mean. Not for
nothing did our contemporary language get the unlovely title
of "prude" from the same root. All manner of foolish timidity,
cowardice, stinge and hearts-by-Frigidaire prudishness have been
falsely named prudence.
Prudence is not and never can be a wicked thing. Prudence, real
wisdom, is a thing always to be desired. False prudence, on the other
hand, of which there is sadly no shortage, is a thing always and
everywhere to be rejected. Give such people a lot of room.
False prudence and meanness of spirit, whatever else they
may be, are windows into one's heart. The view is not always lovely
and may require a lot of prayer, but one is better off to never
follow the example of such a troubled person. Just be kind and
very, very careful!
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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