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Holy Rule for Dec. 7

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and for all who take are of them: Fr. Ambrose of
    Message 1 of 228 , Dec 6, 2008
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      Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and for all who take are of them:

      Fr. Ambrose of Pluscarden, on his feastday.

      David, elderly, having surgery on 12/8.

      Tom, having a serious operation.

      Lord, help us all as You now and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
      grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

      April 7, August 7, December 7
      Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

      Let clothing be given to the brethren
      according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
      and its climate;
      for in cold regions more will be needed,
      and in warm regions less.
      This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.

      We believe, however, that in ordinary places
      the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
      a tunic,
      a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
      a scapular for work,
      stockings and shoes to cover the feet.

      The monks should not complain
      about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
      but be content with what can be found
      in the district where they live and
      can be purchased cheaply.

      The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
      that they be not too short for those who wear them,
      but of the proper fit.

      Let those who receive new clothes
      always give back the old ones at once,
      to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
      For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
      to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
      more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
      Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
      when they receive new ones.

      Those who are sent on a journey
      shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
      which they shall wash and restore on their return.
      And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
      than what they usually wear.
      These they shall receive from the wardrobe
      when they set out on a journey,
      and restore when they return.

      REFLECTION

      Well, I could write another love song to the habit, and I surely do
      love it, but there is an issue here for all who are outside the
      cloister, yet still with the monastic struggle. Clothes do not make
      the monastic, but they do set up some very potent markers, for good
      or ill. The Benedictine job is to find the golden mean, avoiding
      extremes.

      One's clothing sends a message, fair or not. The message it sends may
      very well advance or inhibit any subsequent messages one may try to
      send. Sometimes lay people who are intensely religious will go
      overboard in what can only be called eccentricity in dress. Bad move!
      Right or wrong, our society writes them off at first glance. The odds
      of being a witness who is heard are diminished. We should want our
      appearance to suggest that Jesus Christ is WORTH turning to, not that
      we are simply eccentrics with no fashion sense.

      Simple, decent, clean, middle-of-the-road clothing is a goal
      virtually any Oblate can attain. Not too flashy and costly, but
      neither so tacky or beyond the fringe that it invokes scorn. The
      cheaper the better, but not just for stinge!

      The clothing industry in the West rides roughshod on the backs of a
      LOT of oppressed people in the less developed countries. Buying your
      good clothes used may not stop those awful practices, but it will at
      least stop your direct complicity in them. Buy a used $45 shirt at a
      Salvation Army Thrift Store and your $5 or less will actually go
      towards helping someone in need, not just perpetuating that need.
      Think how you look, but think very carefully of where your money
      goes.

      A further little fussy word here. Think twice about wearing labels
      that show OUTSIDE. I speak as one who once loved buying used shirts
      with some pricey brand's logo emblazoned on the breast. Sigh...
      Conspicuous consumption depends on visible labels like that, and you
      could be adding to a fire you'd rather extinguish. As a monk, I
      became embarrassed to wear such things. It sent the wrong message
      entirely.

      Lastly, almost everyone I know could make do with less clothes. We
      pack a lot of consumerist variety into those closets of ours and that
      sends a message, too. Always remember that the extra coat in our
      chest "belongs to the poor," as St. Basil said.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA





      Continued prayers for Carolyn, she appears to have encephalitis, and she has a perilously high fever of 106.5 F, she is still unresponsive and has been entubated.



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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 228 of 228 , Jan 19, 2009
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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
        immediately.
        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.

        REFLECTION


        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA

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