Holy Rule for Dec. 10
Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of the following, for their loved ones and communities and all who mourn them:
Bro. Dominic Maria, of Caldey Abbey
Sr. Theresa Sheuren, OSB of Our Lady Queen of Peace Monastery, Naples, FL
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Carolyn, for whom we prayed is seriously worsening and the prognosis seems to be getting worse. For her happy death, if that is God's will.
Betty, for whom we prayed is still hanging on and will be discharged to home with hospice care, continued prayers, please.
Sue, who is to under go surgery for a brain tumor.
John, 30, who had a heart attack.
Douglas, 31, serious multiple injuries from a vehicular accident, that he be filled with God's race and faith.
Fr. Maur, he is seriously ill. His angels have
been the Valyermo Abbey¹s trademark for many years. He has spent his time between
Belgium and Valyermo.
Fr. Gregory Elmer OSB of Valyermo goes tomorrow for evaluation for the brain surgery for Parkinson's disease.
Lord, help us all as You know and
will. Help us to believe You take care of us. God's will is best. All is mercy
and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 10, August 10, December 10
Chapter 57: On the Artisans of the Monastery
If there are artisans in the monastery,
let them practice their crafts with all humility,
provided the Abbot has given permission.
But if any one of them becomes conceited
over his skill in his craft,
because he seems to be conferring a benefit on the monastery,
let him be taken from his craft
and no longer exercise it unless,
after he has humbled himself,
the Abbot again gives him permission.
If any of the work of the craftsmen is to be sold,
those responsible for the sale
must not dare to practice any fraud.
Let them always remember Ananias and Saphira,
who incurred bodily death (Acts 5:1-11),
lest they and all who perpetrate fraud
in monastery affairs
suffer spiritual death.
And in the prices let not the sin of avarice creep in,
but let the goods always be sold a little cheaper
than they can be sold by people in the world,
"that in all things God may be glorified" (1 Peter 4:11).
My all-time favorite quote from G. K. Chesterton is: "The artistic
temperament is a disease which afflicts amateurs." Amen!!! Ideally,
Christian life done right would eliminate the phenomenon of prima
donnas of either gender! Monastic life should, too.
The true artist is marked by humility, not because of low self-
esteem, but because of a healthy dose of reality, a firm conviction
that one's gift has been given by God and given with an eye to the
service of all. Christian art, in any form, has no meaning at all
outside of the glory of God and the betterment of the community.
For an artisan to become proud about this would be as ludicrous as
for a priest to be proud of his ability to consecrate, or a lay person
proud of their ability to baptize. Sorry, folks! Doesn't come from us.
Comes from God and we have to always remember our own littleness in
receiving such wonders.
A wrong attitude towards one's gift can quickly turn what God
intended to be a boon to the Christian community into a very large
and unmanageable human cross. Unfortunately, this turn of events is
neither rare nor well done, you should pardon the play on words. Art
in communities must be treasured and held dear, because
it is a gift from a loving God. It is God and His gift that must be
sacrosanct, not some temperamental artist who is just passing that
gift on to others.
The point here is that art must always and everywhere matter less
than the people performing or enjoying it. The brothers and sisters
come first, and they do so from a theological imperative of charity,
much, much more intense than any concept of human reason alone or
canon of aesthetics. In a very real sense, the artist must matter
least of all, must disappear behind the gift, not insist on being
thrust into a foreground of power trips and control.
When a person does liturgy correctly, they vanish behind the veil of
vesture and rubric. They become icon bearers and what is seen is no
longer Traci or Jason, but acolyte and priest. It ought to be so with
artists, but it ought to be so with any gift or skill God has
graciously given us. We truly are NOT the source of the profound
gifts we receive and share. God is. God alone is.
"He must increase, I must decrease..." As soon as we forget that, our
gift becomes a weight dragging us downwards to potentially ultimate
loss, rather than helping us to ascend the heights. Good superiors
can see this and stop it, but not all superiors are good! Let us pray
that our gifts will always be focused by the wise and loving hand of
some realist, to whom God has given the gift of loving truthfulness!
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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