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O King of the Nations: Dec. 22

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX O King of the nations [Gentiles] and Desired of all, You are the cornerstone that binds two into one: Come, and save humankind whom You formed out of
    Message 1 of 30 , Dec 22, 2008
      +PAX

      "O King of the nations [Gentiles] and Desired of all, You are the
      cornerstone that binds two into one: Come, and save humankind whom
      You formed out of clay."

      The antiphons before today were heavily Jewish in their Messianic
      content and this one begins that way, but then presents a radical
      stumbling to Israel's usual position. The Jews of Jesus' time were not
      exactly noted for rabid ecumenism. Their customary ecumenical stance was, alas,
      rather closely akin to that of the Catholic Counter-Reformation: "Someday
      they'll all come crawling and groveling to us on OUR terms." Sadly, the New
      Israel can, at times, all too closely resemble the Old in some respects.

      No problem for the Jews with "King of nations" (Jer. 10:7) or the
      Desired of all, (Hag.2:8) these fit the old pattern comfortably.
      There is even a cornerstone tradition in Isaiah 28:16, but "as the
      foundation of Sion," not a union with all peoples. The jarring note
      is in "the cornerstone that binds the two into one." This is
      definitely not the way Israel expected the Gentiles to "wake up and
      get with it." This is God Himself being the binder, even part of the
      bond, the very cause of unity. This is that perfect union which does
      not make those united feel smaller or less, because God Himself is
      thrown into the breach of union.

      Just as Christ has broken down the walls dividing us from the Father,
      so is He also the cause and source of our unity with all humanity.
      This is very Pauline, expressed in both Eph.2:14 and Gal.3:29 as
      Christ being the peace between Jew and Gentile. That wall, humanly
      speaking, between Jew and Gentile was very high. Jews could not eat
      with Gentiles, many civil observances of foreign lands were
      proscribed for them and their refusal to follow these was a source of
      frequent persecution. In Mosaic law, Jewish nationality was conferred
      by birth from a Jewish mother. The children of a Jewish man and a non-
      Jewish wife would not even be Jews, a fact still true today.

      The quote from Galatians has further applications to human
      unity: "There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free, male
      and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus. But if you
      thus belong to Christ, you are the issue of Abraham and so heirs by
      promise." Here we see not only the wall dividing Jew and Gentile torn
      down, but even the customary way of becoming Jews and heirs to the
      promise overthrown. No Jewish male could confer birth membership in Israel.
      It travelled through the mother. Christ makes it clear that He unites
      all in a new dispensation, one which supersedes the old. It is
      significant that a role limited to women, in an age that scorned
      them, is ascribed to Jesus by St. Paul, hardly the greatest fan of
      women himself, without so much as a shrug of apology.

      The Old Israel cherishes promises and waits for their fulfillment.
      The New Israel, in its delight that the Messiah has come, often
      forgets that it, too, must wait for the fulfillment of the promise
      and that the waiting is terrible, painful frustration. No one can
      look at the quote from Galatians and smugly assume that we are there.
      Anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, religious hatreds,
      misogyny and misandry color our world and sometimes even our Church.
      Hate crimes fill the news all too often. (Once would be too often...)
      We have made a stab at slave and free, but little more than that.

      What we miss is that these changes have already been effected,
      perfectly, in Christ. The unity, the equality, promises are here:
      they are REAL. All that impedes their full realization is just that:
      their "real-ization" and discovery in our human hearts. The way to
      bring about the promise is to live as if it were already here:
      because it is! If every person did that, even to their own personal
      cost and detriment, you would see changes in our world and churches
      literally overnight.

      Lastly, there is a reality check that is not too palatable to our
      modern ears, the reminder that we were formed out of clay. Several
      decades of self-affirming pop psychology in the late 20th century may
      have done their work a bit too well in some of us. The Latin "limus"
      which is here rather flatteringly rendered as "clay" has the more
      common sense of "mud, slime, or mire." Even if we now realize that
      the creation of humanity was not a literal case of God making patty-
      cake with clay, the message here is quite clear. The most cursory
      examination of conscience will reveal how close to our origins we can
      often slip. (You potters out there should pardon the pun...)

      If this reflection may have inflamed a few, please do not blame Abbot
      Lawrence. Most of this was me, after reading Parsch.






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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Brittany,
      Message 2 of 30 , Dec 23, 2008
        +PAX

        Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

        Brittany, continued healing from dental surgery.

        Margaret who is in denial about melanomas that are greatly concerning the specialist

        Wyn who is having a series of scans for problems in her throat and neck .

        Peter and Ann on their 36th wedding anniversary

        Deo gratias: Bill who had a heart attack is doing better. He had 2 stints put in and there was no lasting damage from the heart attack. He is on a strict do nothing regimen which his wife will enforce.

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

        April 24, August 24, December 24
        Chapter 66: On the Porter of the Monastery

        At the gate of the monastery
        let there be placed a wise old woman,
        who knows how to receive and to give a message,
        and whose maturity will prevent her from straying about.
        This porter should have a room near the gate,
        so that those who come may always find someone at hand
        to attend to their business.
        And as soon as anyone knocks or a poor person hails her,
        let her answer "Thanks be to God" or "A blessing!"
        Then let her attend to them promptly,
        with all the meekness inspired by the fear of God
        and with the warmth of charity.

        Should the porter need help,
        let her have one of the younger sisters.

        If it can be done,
        the monastery should be so established
        that all the necessary things,
        such as water, mill, garden and various workshops,
        may be within the enclosure,
        so that there is no necessity
        for the sisters to go about outside of it,
        since that is not at all profitable for their souls.

        We desire that this Rule be read often in the community,
        so that none of the sisters may excuse herself
        on the ground of ignorance.

        REFLECTION

        Modern monasteries in our Order rarely have gatehouses, let alone
        porters waiting at them. In one way, that's too bad, because one
        often sees visitors come to a monastery without a clue as to where to
        go first, or how to contact someone. On the other hand, it would
        wasteful to employ one person full-time at such an endeavor in our
        smaller communities of today, since whole days may go by in many
        places with few or none needing assistance.

        What we have today is the phone, and phone manners are how this best
        translates into modern life for both Oblates and professed. I have
        certainly known monks who have answered the phone with an attitude
        that vaguely said: "You've got some nerve putting me out like this,
        disturbing me, etc." One certainly wouldn't want to call such a
        monastery twice. If one had never called one before, it is unlikely
        that one would want to try another, to go for 2 out of 3, just in
        case. See the responsibility we have?

        When a phone or doorbell rings, whether in a great Benedictine abbey
        or an urban Benedictine apartment, we have the opportunity to
        practice the hospitable grace that the Holy Rule requires of all.
        Dorothy Day's friend and mentor, Father Hugo, used to say that we
        love God as much as the one we love the least.

        That would readily translate here. I LOVE to see certain guests arrive,
        look forward to it as soon as I hear they are coming. Those are not the
        receptions on which I should judge my hospitality. The tough-to-love
        ones are.

        The point here is that we ARE Benedictines, whether our answering
        style of door or phone makes that evident or not. I might not like to think
        so, but the anonymity of just saying "Hello," one the phone, without my
        name or title does not entitle me to be harsh or gruff or rude. All of us are
        bound by something Benedictine within us to be kind and gracious to all
        who call or visit.

        Someone who calls the guesthouse for the first time can be driven
        away or attracted by the way they are dealt with on the phone.
        A vocation could driven away by a smartingly cold response. To
        risk alienating someone because of our own moods might mean that we
        cheat someone out of a spiritual respite they sorely need.

        I can't tell you how many people who just called us out of nowhere in the
        last 12 years have become real members of our family, greatly
        beneficial to themselves and to us. Anyone of those first experiences
        could have been irreparably soured by a cranky phone manner. Look at
        what all of us would have lost had that happened.

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






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      • Br. Jerome Leo
        +PAX Since the 24th is First Vespers of Christmas, actually beginning the solemnity, today s antiphon is the last of the great O Antiphons. The Roman Church
        Message 3 of 30 , Dec 23, 2008
          +PAX

          Since the 24th is First Vespers of Christmas, actually beginning the
          solemnity, today's antiphon is the last of the great O Antiphons. The
          Roman Church formerly made more extensive use of the Jewish custom of
          beginning feasts the night before, spanning sunset to sunset, but now
          reserves that practice for Sundays and solemnities. Too bad, in a
          way. First Vespers of many lesser feasts used to be a joy, and it was
          a further connection to our Jewish roots.

          A bit of trivia, for which I am indebted to Joyce, who learned it in a
          Dominican
          college in the 50's. If you take the first letters of the second words (after
          the initial O,) which begin each antiphon, you get the acronym: SARCORE.
          Read backwards, on Dec. 24, that spells "Ero cras" Latin for "Tomorrow I
          will be (there)".
          Now some monastic of the Middle Ages must have had a lot of time on his (or
          her!)
          hands to figure that one out.


          "O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of Nations and their
          Savior: come, and save us, O Lord our God!"

          Emmanuel- God with us- this was a radical fulfillment of the
          Messianic prophecies which the Jews had never dreamed would happen: a
          divine Messiah. Though the promises all refer to and fit Jesus, the
          Messiah expected by the Israelites was not divine. To their
          reasoning, none could be literally divine, really the Son of God.
          Their expectation of a saving ruler did not assume that God would
          share His very nature and essence with the Anointed One.

          Emmanuel reflects an entirely Christian and entirely new theology,
          one of Incarnation and an immanence hitherto unknown. God with us,
          sharing every hardship of humanity in His own flesh, dwelling not in
          a Temple spiritually, but as flesh and blood among humanity, wishing
          to remain with us until the end of time. This is a dramatic contrast
          to the affection, yet distance with which the Lord was regarded in
          the Old Testament.

          Emmanuel- God with us- it finally springs the liturgical construct
          of "waiting" all these weeks and admits that we knew He was there all
          along. Advent has that flavor, of a pretended waiting for Him Whom we
          know to have already arrived. We place ourselves in the shoes of
          those who had Him not in order to better appreciate Him Whom we have
          had all along.

          We hail Christ as King and Lawgiver (Isaiah 32:22,) and echo the
          dying words of Jacob in Gen. 49:10, " The scepter will not pass from
          Judah, nor a ruler form his thigh, till He comes that is to be sent.
          He is the expectation of the nations." We ask Him to save us. The
          Latin "Salva" , the imperative form of "to save," is related
          to "salus", health, wholeness. We are asking for a holistic well-
          being of mind, soul and body when we thus ask to be saved. We
          are, in fact, asking to finally be made perfect, fully whole and sound,
          something only God can do!

          Lastly, we no longer beat around the bush, (burning or otherwise!) We
          come right out and directly call Jesus "our Lord and our God." It is
          the crowning acclamation of faith to a long season of expectation.

          A blessed late Advent and Christmas to you all. I have enjoyed
          sharing these with you because I truly feel they are the best poetry
          left in the liturgy of the West, even beating out the now pared-down
          Exultet at Easter!









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        • Br. Jerome Leo
          +PAX A very blessed and holy Christmas to you all. May Christ bring each of us ever closer and closer to Himself. Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental
          Message 4 of 30 , Dec 24, 2008
            +PAX

            A very blessed and holy Christmas to you all. May Christ bring each of us ever closer and closer to Himself.

            Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Jim, who had prostate surgery in April now undergoing chemo because they were not able to get it all. He is tired and weak continually, now, but still in good spirits. And for all his loved ones and all who take care of him.

            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 25, August 25, December 25
            Chapter 67: On Brethren Who Are Sent on a Journey

            Let the brethren who are sent on a journey
            commend themselves
            to the prayers of all the brethren and of the Abbot;
            and always at the last prayer of the Work of God
            let a commemoration be made of all absent brethren.

            When brethren return from a journey,
            at the end of each canonical Hour of the Work of God
            on the day they return,
            let them lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory
            and beg the prayers of all
            on account of any faults
            that may have surprised them on the road,
            through the seeing or hearing of something evil,
            or through idle talk.
            And let no one presume to tell another
            whatever he may have seen or heard outside of the monastery,
            because this causes very great harm.
            But if anyone presumes to do so,
            let him undergo the punishment of the Rule.
            And let him be punished likewise who would presume
            to leave the enclosure of the monastery
            and go anywhere or do anything, however small,
            without an order from the Abbot.

            REFLECTION

            Rare is the person who can manage to stay employed without at least a
            slightly different persona at work. We are one thing there, because
            we have to be, but when we clock out, much, if not all of the work
            persona is shed. In fact, we usually have a whole repertoire of
            different selves, being one thing with our grandmother and quite
            another with a childhood friend we have known all our lives, one
            thing with the promising new date and quite another with the spouse
            of many years!

            Secular society has enlarged upon this tendency to its own ends.
            Because the tendency is so deeply rooted in us, we may fail to see
            its dangers when carried to extremes. Thanks to a society often
            glaringly unassisted by revelation, we have the unhappy concept of
            different umbrellas, different sets of ethics to cover different
            areas of life. "Hey, religion is fine if you want it, but this is
            BUSINESS!" or "I may be a Christian, but this is public service. I
            was elected by a constituency that expected me to leave some of that
            Gospel stuff at the door." Well, folks, such notions do not always
            wash well. In fact, they really don't wash at all.

            The message of the Holy Rule and of the Gospel is that there is one
            umbrella, period. There is one persona, period. Granted, in the
            latter, shades and gradations may last throughout most of our
            struggling lives, but the goal is clear. All monastic, all Christian,
            all the time. One heart, one umbrella, one Lord, one faith, one
            baptism.

            That work persona that we drop when we clock out, the totally free
            and other person we are on days off or on trips away can be an OK
            notion in relation to work. Wouldn't we find someone who was a
            salesperson or teacher or secretary or manager ALL the time to be a
            dreadful drip? The concept fails, however, when it is applied to
            vocations, to any vocation at all. One does not take a vacation from
            being married or a parent or ordained or a monastic.

            Do I hear loud screams in cyber-space as I mention BALANCE again?
            Sorry, but it is true. There is a balanced way to be under one
            umbrella all the time that we must strive to achieve. Yes, I am
            different with different friends, we all are, we have to be, charity
            demands that. But there is a commonality between all the threads of
            our behavior. We are monastics. We are freer within defined limits.
            It is to the balance of those defined limits that this chapter refers.

            At Petersham, we still follow this custom of prayer for one who will
            be away overnight. The prayers are said in the refectory, after
            grace. One is blessed leaving and returning, while kneeling in the
            center of the ref. It's just a way of saying, as a community, that we
            all know that maintaining that one umbrella can be tough, especially
            when one is away alone. We want to support each other with our
            prayers, we want our brother to know that our hearts are with him all
            the way.

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





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          • Br. Jerome Leo
            +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following and for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Herb s wife,
            Message 5 of 30 , Dec 25, 2008
              +PAX

              Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following and for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

              Herb's wife, ovarian cancer.

              Ian, brain tumor, prognosis uncertain

              Continued prayers for Michael, discharged to his home, for healing of his renal problems.

              Prayers, please, for all who have lost someone dear over the holidays. It
              can be so awful for them and then the pain can recur year after year. Prayers,
              too, for all those addicts for whom this season of feasting in food and drink
              can be a particularly trying time of temptation. May God bless and strengthen
              them all. 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 26, August 26, December 26
              Chapter 68: If a Sister Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things

              If it happens
              that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a sister,
              let her nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority
              with all meekness and obedience.
              But if she sees that the weight of the burden
              altogether exceeds the limit of her strength,
              let her submit the reasons for her inability
              to the one who is over her
              in a quiet way and at an opportune time,
              without pride, resistance, or contradiction.
              And if after these representations
              the Superior still persists in her decision and command,
              let the subject know that this is for her good,
              and let her obey out of love,
              trusting in the help of God.

              REFLECTION

              Buried in chapters whose names may throw us off there are usually
              gems, one just has to dig a bit more carefully. Granted, impossible
              tasks are rarely asked of anyone these days, much less Oblates who
              live outside the monastery, but there is a beautiful method given
              here which has the widest of applications.

              Most interpersonal conflict arises from one being or feeling wronged.
              Escalation often follows when one tries to express their displeasure
              to the offender. Even people who are truly wrong do not enjoy being
              humiliated or treated as if they were nothing. Upset by another's
              actions, it is easy to lose one's cool. When both parties blow up, a
              relentless cycle of discord is born.

              The method given here for approaching one's superior is a masterpiece
              of crisis intervention and prevention for almost any situation in
              life:

              "...in a quiet way and at an opportune time, without pride,
              resistance, or contradiction."

              We ought to carve that on the walls of every mediation center in the
              world, on the doors to every marriage counselor and above every
              complaint desk (or, as they euphemize them these days, "Customer
              Service," but what's in a name?)

              Look at what is called for here: composure and calm, timing, respect
              for the other person (Gandhi would even say love for the foe,) non-
              violence and non-contentiousness. Use this approach with
              disagreements and many of them will melt away. One reason Gandhi's
              non-violence worked was that he employed all of these things, the
              opponent was never denied her worth or dignity. When his followers
              pared the list, they failed. This is the recipe for lasting results,
              not for a temporary subjugation.

              Jesus, of course, gives us a three step process to redress wrongs: go
              to the person alone, if that doesn't work go with a witness, if even
              that fails, then haul them up before the whole assembly. We can
              consider ourselves absolved if we follow all those steps and may feel
              justified, but if we undertake ANY of those steps, especially the
              first one, without the calm prescribed by St. Benedict, our effort is
              all but guaranteed to fail. We can sputter out: "I went to her and I
              got NOWHERE!" Ah, yes, but HOW did you go? "He wouldn't even listen
              to the whole community!" Neither would you, if made to feel that
              small and worthless in public.

              Very often our manner of dealing with others says a great deal about
              how we esteem ourselves. A balanced dignity and self-love is shown in
              the Holy Rule's approach. It will go a longer way toward ending
              conflict than a "wronged prima donna" move. Sometimes prima donnas
              of either gender are filled with angry self-hatred.

              Watch people fight and it will be easy to see that many consider any
              slight or offense against themselves to be THE original sin. Sigh...
              Give people like that a lot of room. Being wrong is not a capital
              offense, everybody does it at one time or another. People who
              demonstrate anything else by their actions damage their own standing
              in the group as well, and rightly so.

              Remember that every disagreement hurts the whole group. A family at
              dinner with two not speaking is a tense affair. You cannot calm a
              child by saying "This is between your Father and me! It has nothing
              to do with you." But it does, it really does. A community in choir
              after a huge blow-up between two members is not an exquisite taste of
              mystical prayer. Everybody suffers. That's why fixing these fender-
              benders is so important and why St. Benedict gave us a way that is so
              very likely to achieve results.

              Now THAT'S creative peacemaking!

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



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            • Br. Jerome Leo
              +PAX Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Br. Philip, who died Christmas Eve, and prayers for the brothers at Weston Priory. Prayers, please, for
              Message 6 of 30 , Dec 26, 2008
                +PAX

                Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Br. Philip, who died Christmas Eve, and prayers for the brothers at Weston Priory.

                Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                a baby born to a drug addicted Mom, up for adoption by the courts.

                Linda, completed round two of chemo well, four more to go.

                Victoria's Dad, off life support, but not expected to be discharged till New Year's, and for Victoria's visit with him.

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

                April 27, August 27, December 27
                Chapter 69: That the Monks Presume Not to Defend One Another

                Care must be taken that no monk presume on any ground
                to defend another monk in the monastery,
                or as it were to take him under his protection,
                even though they be united by some tie of blood-relationship.
                Let not the monks dare to do this in any way whatsoever,
                because it may give rise to most serious scandals.
                But if anyone breaks this rule,
                let him be severely punished.

                REFLECTION

                We are all supposed to bear one another's burdens. That should be
                more than enough help for anyone, if we actually keep that principle.

                A big problem with becoming the protector of another, self-appointed
                or otherwise, is that it destroys one's peace needlessly. When I was
                a novice, there was one other novice I really did not want to lose.
                He was not the brightest bulb on the tree and I went out of my way to
                protect him from himself. In time, he came to resent this and I was
                so busy worrying about covering or preventing his foibles all the
                time that I spent little time focusing on my own novitiate. Of
                course, he left. He was supposed to leave. I, however, could not see
                that at the time.

                This isn't just about monasteries, it's about any human group. Taking
                someone under our wing can result in all sorts of false assumptions.
                It can fool us into thinking we can really control events more than
                we can. It can lead us, a la Mother Hen, to seek to control the one
                under wing in very unnecessary and unhealthy ways. Its most common
                error is also one of its most dangerous ones: it leads us to think in
                terms of "us-and-them." There is no "them" in a healthy monastery or
                family or Christian community, only an "us".

                As usual, what the Holy Rule insists we avoid is an extreme. This
                chapter is NOT saying we should not look out for one another, just
                that no one should presume that the job is hers alone. Good families
                protect all their members, but it is a corporate activity, something
                in which all participate. Destroy that balance and the others will
                notice quickly. It upsets the inner peace, both of the individual and
                the group.

                Part of any monastic's struggle, in cloister or in the world, is the
                painful facing up to ourselves, that confrontation with our own
                flaws. This difficult self-knowledge is essential to the monastic
                way. Trying to protect someone from this process is counter to the
                very reason they came. It not only harms them, it harms us. It
                keeps us so busy with another's affairs that we can avoid looking
                at our own failings: a distraction we may perilously cherish!

                Merton once told his junior monk students that there is an
                existential place of loneliness in every monk that no one can touch,
                and that this is the way it's supposed to be, that no one should try
                to reach it. That's where the struggle goes on, that's where there is
                only God and the self. That's the arena in which the action happens.

                Every person, every employee, every spouse and child has a similar
                place: it is the place of great potential learning and growth. Our deep
                respect for one another must stand away from that space. Becoming
                self-appointed guardians of another violates that space.

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




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Br. Jerome Leo
                +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and for all who take care of them: Alex and
                Message 7 of 30 , Dec 27, 2008
                  +PAX

                  Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and for all who take care of them:

                  Alex and Brie, strains on their relationship owing to a move by Alex to another state.

                  Ann and her family, especially her Mom, in rapidly declining health and her daughter, Jesse, and her new grandson and for Ann and her son.

                  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 28, August 28, December 28
                  Chapter 70: That No One Venture to Punish at Random

                  Every occasion of presumption
                  shall be avoided in the monastery,
                  and we decree that no one be allowed
                  to excommunicate or to strike any of her sisters
                  unless the Abbess has given her the authority.
                  Those who offend in this matter
                  shall be rebuked in the presence of all,
                  that the rest may have fear.

                  But children up to 15 years of age
                  shall be carefully controlled and watched by all,
                  yet this too with all moderation and discretion.
                  All, therefore, who presume
                  without the Abbess' instructions
                  to punish those above that age
                  or who lose their temper with them,
                  shall undergo the discipline of the Rule;
                  for it is written,
                  "Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself" (Tobias
                  4:16).

                  REFLECTION

                  "Every occasion of presumption should be avoided in the monastery."
                  This is about a lot more than saying who can punish whom. This is
                  pointing out that, whenever there are more than one to be considered,
                  absolute freedom cannot exist. This is about central authority, yes,
                  but it is also about the total way one conducts oneself in a home or
                  group that others share.

                  Ever think about your first home away from your parents house? It was
                  probably different in a lot of ways, especially if you lived there
                  alone. Heady freedom that! I recall my own first place very well and
                  fondly. However, I can assure you, I could not have lived as I did
                  there had I been in a family, with younger siblings at home. (OK, it
                  was 1969, so go figure...)

                  Even alone, however, I was not free to play my stereo at undue
                  volumes at 3 AM. We live on a common planet, at some point ALL of our
                  lives touch others. When they do, control of some sort is necessary
                  if people are to live in peace.

                  There is a great and treacherous myth of individualism among
                  Americans and, to a lesser extent, I think, among all Western
                  European cultures. Non-western cultures often have a much more highly
                  developed sense of sharing and commonality. The American nonsense
                  of "God-bless-the-child-that's-got-his-own" does justice to neither
                  God nor the child!

                  Schweitzer pointed out that Europeans found the Africans lazy,
                  because they would not work to a point of exhaustion without need.
                  They worked all right, but when the work was done, they quit. They
                  had a casual and natural attitude to work, proper to their own
                  economic system, that drove the Europeans nuts, because the latter
                  had more of a 40-hours-a-week-and-then-you-rest notion. Both
                  Schweitzer and I tend to side with the natives on this one!

                  That myth of total freedom, of self-sufficiency being able to buy one
                  the right to any activity is totally wrong. Even at 20, in my richly
                  bohemian digs that I called "Shackri-la", I was not totally free. I
                  didn't know it well enough back then, but I wasn't. I had no right to waste
                  water or leave lights on all night or drive drunk. My fantasy might have
                  been chronologically appropriate as Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco,
                  but hey, even there, even then, people were not morally free in any absolute
                  sense. None of us are.

                  Every presumed domain of our control exists on a planet shared by
                  billions. No one of us is an island. Our complete interdependence is
                  not only objective fact, it is our only hope. You might never have
                  read this chapter as an ad for ecological consciousness, but look at
                  the first line again. We are ALWAYS in this with others and that
                  always means responsibilities to "...not do to another what one would
                  not have done to oneself."

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

                  Petersham, MA













                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Br. Jerome Leo
                  +PAX Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Robert and for all who mourn him. Prayers, please for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the
                  Message 8 of 30 , Dec 28, 2008
                    +PAX

                    Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Robert and for all who mourn him.

                    Prayers, please for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                    Salome and her Mom, taking care of her Mom is becoming nearly full-time for Salome and many difficulties arise.

                    Brittany, that she complete her dental work smoothly and stay well.

                    Frances an elderly woman who is in the hospital with serious medical problems.

                    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 29, August 29, December 29
                    Chapter 71: That the Brethren Be Obedient to One Another

                    Not only is the boon of obedience
                    to be shown by all to the Abbot,
                    but the brethren are also to obey one another,
                    knowing that by this road of obedience they are going to God.
                    Giving priority, therefore, to the commands of the Abbot
                    and of the Superior appointed by him
                    (to which we allow no private orders to be preferred),
                    for the rest
                    let all the juniors obey their seniors
                    with all charity and solicitude.
                    But if anyone is found contentious,
                    let him be corrected.

                    And if any brother,
                    for however small a cause,
                    is corrected in any way by the Abbot or by any of his Superiors,
                    or if he faintly perceives
                    that the mind of any Superior is angered or moved against him,
                    however little,
                    let him at once, without delay,
                    prostrate himself on the ground at his feet
                    and lie there making satisfaction
                    until that emotion is quieted with a blessing.
                    But if anyone should disdain to do this,
                    let him undergo corporal punishment
                    or, if he is stubborn, let him be expelled from the monastery.

                    REFLECTION

                    OK, now we're getting into radical. Any human group, from the
                    military to a kindergarten at recess expects one to obey the leader.
                    But each other? Give me a break! How many jobs would you have quit if
                    you had to obey all of your co-workers? Yet St. Benedict calls such
                    obedience a "boon", a wonderfully good thing.

                    Well, giving a break is exactly what is intended here. The Kingdom of
                    God, which the Holy Rule seeks to guide us to, is ruled by love, not
                    hierarchy per se. It includes a hierarchy, yes, but that, too, is
                    founded on love. The Kingdom of God strives for peace and serenity.

                    The quickest way to soften an environment and let peace flourish is
                    to keep people more or less happy, and the quickest way to do that is
                    to give in to their legitimate wishes whenever possible. So long as the
                    matter at hand is morally neutral, why not give way?

                    Now we're getting to the heroic stuff. There are ulterior benefits to
                    obeying the boss, but another peer? What's the big deal there? The
                    big deal is love, the big deal is forgetfulness of self, the big deal
                    is the abdication of control issues.

                    Monastic struggle will not free one who is attached to control. It
                    will thwart the good of the struggle. Don't beat yourself up too
                    badly on this one if you live in the world, because many, many
                    monastics in cloisters fail it as well. It is one of Satan's
                    sneakiest tricks and he enjoys its effectiveness immensely. What
                    could be better than something the poor victims hardly notice at all,
                    that eats up their hard work like a ravenous cancer? Very, very handy.

                    I am tempted to say that anyone who is addicted to control- at any
                    stage of monastic life- ought to be set to cleaning bathrooms until
                    the feeling passes. Hey, that would be a great idea, but most
                    monasteries do not have that many toilets. Sad, but true.

                    Rather than worry about the pathetic individuals so addicted, who can
                    make life so unpleasant for those they live with, why not just focus on
                    changing ourselves? We can be part of the solution. We can go out of
                    our way to make life easier for each other. We can pray for those who
                    don't.

                    A horrible truth of monastic life is that if one waits for everyone
                    to get perfect (according, of course, to one's own standards!) the
                    result will be futile and frustrated stagnation. Community we may be,
                    but all on the same page we shall never be till heaven, and maybe not
                    even there!

                    It's a snap to be a pain. Anybody can pull that off with no effort at
                    all. Lots of folks do, all the time! The harvest, however, is
                    isolation and loneliness, which result in bitterness that only fuels
                    the vicious cycle.

                    In contrast, it is a bit difficult at first to be easy, but it is
                    ALSO addictive when done right! One will soon be hunting for ways to
                    be easy, because every drop of water makes the ocean a tiny bit less
                    salty. The harvest, too, is far more precious: a growing warmth that
                    makes one ever more gentle, more open, more loving and glad to be so.
                    The harvest is joy and love, not the lie of possession and bitterness.
                    You may not change the world alone, but the change in yourself will be
                    awesome and dramatic. That alone will go farther still to improve the
                    world, to build up the Mystical Body of Christ.

                    It is very unlikely that you will ever be able to cure a control
                    freak. Give them a lot of room, because (harsh saying here!) they can be
                    truly a danger to your serenity. Cultivate among your peers an attitude
                    of complete non-control, of nearly total indifference to detail,
                    rather like the old peace poster that said: "What if they gave a war
                    and no one came?".

                    Maybe, just maybe, the wizard might one day wake up to actually see
                    that Oz is not with her! That's about your only hope. People like
                    this can profit us by being crosses and we can grow from praying for
                    them, but getting sucked into their hopelessly false view of reality
                    is a fatal mistake.

                    Love and prayers,
                    Jerome, OSB





                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                    +PAX Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Donna, and for her husband, John, and all who mourn her. Prayers for the spiritual, mental and
                    Message 9 of 30 , Dec 30, 2008
                      +PAX

                      Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Donna, and for her husband, John, and all who mourn her.

                      Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                      Doris and Normand. Doris has been diagnosed with cancer in her liver, stomach and brain. Her reactions to chemo have been bad and doctors have given her 1 month to live. Her husband Normand is in the advanced stages of Alzheimers.

                      Baby Charlie is just three and half months old. He is to undergo tests this coming week to determine whether the tumor in his liver is operable. Please keep Charlie, his brother, Jack, and his mom and dad- Hayley and David - in your prayers

                      Alma and her family. She is close to death; fpr her happy death and eternal rest and for all who will mourn her.

                      Bill, who's been ill for some time, but was just diagnosed with bone cancer. He has been away from the Church for many years; prayers he'll come to receive the sacraments again.

                      B., violent and frequent epilepsy.

                      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,
                      fulfil 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.

                      REFLECTION

                      "Whoever you are, therefore, who are hastening to the heavenly
                      homeland..." That "whoever" is the true object all this heartfelt
                      tenderness of Saint Benedict , the one for whom he wrote! He only
                      made one qualifier, that of "hastening to the heavenly homeland." It
                      seems that some of our decisions about who matters and who does not
                      have employed a somewhat more restrictive standard than that of our
                      holy Father Benedict.

                      "Whoever you are..." I don't care who you are or how much I disagree
                      with you, whether I nearly hate your positions or love them blindly,
                      it is you I am called to love, to honor to respect, to cherish as a
                      fellow monastic traveler. You.

                      "Whoever you are..." I surely don't care whether you're Catholic or
                      not, in fact I am relieved and delighted that many of you on board
                      are not! I surely don't care if you are not exactly the same sort of
                      Catholic as I am, it doesn't matter to me. You do. You have to,
                      because this is the Holy Rule I have embraced, that we all have.

                      In the United States, through much of our history, Catholics and Jews
                      shared a roughly equal amount of contempt. Great camaraderie could
                      flourish between the two and still quite often does. Having said
                      that, it has always amused me that many Jews I know get along MUCH
                      better with Catholics than they do with Jews who disagree with them!
                      How like ourselves!

                      When disagreement happens within our family, we hurt more, it is more
                      important to us. The differing opinion of a stranger on the subway
                      would hardly matter at all! Maybe the fact that we CAN get hurt and
                      angry is a good sign, maybe it means we are at least beginning to
                      love, but it is HOW we get hurt or angry that we have to examine
                      very, very closely.

                      The important thing is not opinion or observance or concepts. The
                      important thing is you. Whoever you are. Every time I fail that, I
                      have to get up, apologize and start over. Maybe not right from square
                      one each time, but again each time.

                      If I ever stop doing those things, I have stopped being a
                      Benedictine. Whoever you are, but it's not just me that has to
                      embrace that. You do, too. We all do. I am the only one I can insist
                      upon, however, the only one I can make change, and that might be good
                      to keep in mind, whoever you are.

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




                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                      +PAX In years past, the custom prevailed in many places of welcoming the New Year with a Te Deum of thanksgiving for the year completed and for the new years
                      Message 10 of 30 , Dec 31, 2008
                        +PAX

                        In years past, the custom prevailed in many places of welcoming the New Year
                        with a Te Deum of thanksgiving for the year completed and for the new years
                        dawning. Of course, for those who have a Roman Liturgy of the Hours book that
                        includes the Office of Readings, it would still be the custom: the Te Deum
                        is said with the Office of Readings for New Year's Day, the Solemnity of the
                        Mother of God.

                        However, since many do not have access to the four volume Liturgy of the
                        Hours, or the one volume that has just the Office of Readings, I thought I'd dig
                        up a text in English of the Te Deum. This one is from 1662! It originally
                        appeared in
                        the Book of Common Prayer that year. Hence, its language is a bit archaic, yet
                        it
                        has the lovely ring of Prayer Book English. Enjoy! And please remember us all
                        when you say it!

                        A blessed 2009 to all and thanks be to God for all the gifts of 2008!

                        Love and prayers,
                        Jerome, OSB


                        We praise Thee, O God:
                        we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
                        All the earth doth worship Thee:
                        the Father everlasting.

                        To Thee all Angels cry aloud:
                        the heavens and all the powers therein.
                        To Thee Cherubin and Seraphin:
                        continually do cry,
                        Holy, Holy, Holy:
                        Lord God of Sabaoth;
                        Heaven and earth are full
                        of the Majesty: of Thy glory.

                        The glorious company of the Apostles: praise Thee.
                        The goodly fellowship of the Prophets: praise Thee.
                        The noble army of Martyrs: praise Thee.

                        The holy Church throughout all the
                        world: doth acknowledge Thee;
                        The Father: of an infinite majesty;
                        Thine honourable, true: and only Son;
                        Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.

                        Thou art the King of glory: O Christ.
                        Thou art the everlasting Son: of the Father.

                        When thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man
                        Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.

                        When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death:
                        Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

                        Thou sittest at the right hand of God:
                        in the glory of the Father.

                        We believe that Thou shalt come: to be our Judge.

                        We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants:
                        whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

                        Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints:
                        in glory everlasting.

                        O Lord, save Thy people:
                        and bless Thine heritage.
                        Govern them:
                        and lift them up for ever.

                        Day by day: we magnify Thee;
                        And we worship Thy Name:
                        ever world without end.

                        Vouchsafe, O Lord:
                        to keep us this day without sin.
                        O Lord, have mercy upon us:
                        have mercy upon us.

                        O Lord, let Thy mercy lighten upon us:
                        as our trust is in Thee.
                        O Lord, in Thee have I trusted:
                        let me never be confounded.


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                        +PAX Prayers, please, for Alma, for whom we prayed, she has died. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her. Lord, help us all as
                        Message 11 of 30 , Dec 31, 2008
                          +PAX

                          Prayers, please, for Alma, for whom we prayed, she has died. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her.

                          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 1, May 2, September 1

                          Prologue

                          L I S T E N carefully, my child,
                          to your master's precepts,
                          and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).
                          Receive willingly and carry out effectively
                          your loving father's advice,
                          that by the labor of obedience
                          you may return to Him
                          from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.

                          To you, therefore, my words are now addressed,
                          whoever you may be,
                          who are renouncing your own will
                          to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King,
                          and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

                          And first of all,
                          whatever good work you begin to do,
                          beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it,
                          that He who has now deigned to count us among His children
                          may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds.
                          For we must always so serve Him
                          with the good things He has given us,
                          that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children,
                          nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions,
                          deliver us to everlasting punishment
                          as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory.

                          REFLECTION

                          The Prologue is the most tender and loving of beginnings. Always,
                          always, always keep this loving Father that writes here in mind as you
                          read the rest of the Holy Rule. This and the epilogue are the key to
                          it all, and the key to the saintly personality of our holy Father
                          Benedict.

                          The Holy Rule can seem so lofty that it sometimes turns people away.
                          They think: "This is for those really holy people, not for me. I'll
                          bet it's easy for saints like them, but I couldn't even dream of
                          trying." Wrong on both counts and St. Benedict makes that clear. We
                          return "by the labor of obedience" and if we are not one of those who
                          has "to do battle" against our own will, he makes it abundantly
                          certain that he is not talking to us.

                          If, in fact, there is anyone for whom the Rule is a cinch, and I
                          doubt that very much, then it was not written for them. It was
                          written for us who struggle, for us for whom it is NOT easy, to help
                          us in a battle that sometimes wears us out.

                          St. Benedict also makes his point that our distance from God is due
                          to our "sloth of disobedience." Yet he doesn't tell the slothful to
                          quit because they are worthless, he tells them they are the very ones
                          for whom he is writing this Rule! This is the Rule for the fallen and
                          beginners, this is an entry level position which can advance to great
                          sanctity, but it *IS* an entry level position!

                          This is the door and gate for all. This is most decidedly NOT a Rule
                          just for monks and nuns in monasteries. Were that so, no provision
                          for Oblates would ever have been made. No, this is a Rule for all who
                          wish to try to become better and because they have made that
                          intention, God "has deigned to count us among His children." There is
                          no more us-and-them here. Just by beginning, we become part of the
                          whole.

                          How many of us who were not in the advanced reading group as children
                          secretly got the suspicion that the whole class was really for the
                          wonder kids, not for us, that we were somehow extraneous and just
                          tagging along to whatever was REALLY going on? Well, the Holy Rule is
                          quite direct about stating that this time, it is not about wonder
                          kids: the center of its focus is the rest of us! Now there's a
                          refreshingly upside down and all too rare world view!

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

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Br. Jerome Leo
                          +PAX Carolyn, for whom we prayed, has died. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for Lynda and all who mourn her. Prayers for the spiritual, mental
                          Message 12 of 30 , Jan 1, 2009
                            +PAX

                            Carolyn, for whom we prayed, has died. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for Lynda and all who mourn her.

                            Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                            Leslie, who just found out her beloved uncle died a month ago, after 3 months' hospitalization for a car crash, & whose nephew, 22 months, has been hospitalized; she is also desperate to find a FT job & home

                            Alfred, 53, & his widowed mother, Vee, 85. Critically ill, he needs a lung transplant to survive. His mother has only the 2 sons, & is terribly crippled from decades in a sweat-shop.

                            Lord, help us 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 2, May 3, September 2
                            Prologue (continued)

                            Let us arise, then, at last,
                            for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
                            "Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 18:11).
                            Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
                            let us hear with attentive ears
                            the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
                            "Today if you hear His voice,
                            harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94:8).
                            And again,
                            "Whoever has ears to hear,
                            hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).
                            And what does He say?
                            "Come, My children, listen to Me;
                            I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps. 33:12).
                            "Run while you have the light of life,
                            lest the darkness of death overtake you" (John 12:35).

                            REFLECTION

                            Check out the similarities of this section, at the beginning of the
                            Holy Rule, and the readings of early Lent, which stress that "now is
                            the acceptable time." It brings to mind St. Benedict's later chapter
                            which says that the monastic life ought always to have some semblance
                            of Lent.

                            That perpetual Lent chapter is the source of a lot of grumbling about
                            austerity from one camp and cheering about it from another. Both may
                            have missed a salient point. Perhaps the greatest element of
                            perpetual Lent has less to do with austerity- even the monastic fast
                            did not last all year. What IS perpetually in style is wakefulness
                            and self-examination.

                            Monastic life withers in either smugness or a rut. What St. Benedict
                            wants us to do is always to try and stay at that serious moment of
                            taking inventory that many of us feel at Lent's beginning. We need to
                            always be checking what needs to be cleaned up and we need to be
                            prepared, even a bit eager, to start working on it.

                            This is why a daily examination of conscience is so necessary.
                            Compline, the traditional liturgical place for such examens, is a
                            very apt place for same. As we prepare for sleep, which prefigures
                            death, we prepare also for death, by examining our faults and asking
                            forgiveness.

                            The Holy Rule, like Lent, is by no means the gateway to an easier
                            life, but to a holier one. As we actually grow in holiness much of it
                            will become easier, more natural to us. But until that time, it is a
                            struggle and, in unconquered areas, it remains something of a
                            struggle for all of our lives. What's hard about that struggle isn't
                            fasting or penance, but changing ourselves. Austere practices are
                            just a means to that end, not ends in themselves.

                            The whole idea of Lent and the Holy Rule is lasting change for the
                            better. Lent is a seasonal construct to get us to begin anew, the
                            Holy Rule says that beginning anew must be a daily thing. Lent is an
                            attempt to get us to do for forty days what we ought to have been
                            doing all year. The Holy Rule is a way to do what we ought to do all
                            year, every day.

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




                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Br. Jerome Leo
                            +PAX Betty, for whom we prayed, has died, prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her, especially her Mom, Lib. Lord, help us all as
                            Message 13 of 30 , Jan 2, 2009
                              +PAX

                              Betty, for whom we prayed, has died, prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her, especially her Mom, Lib.

                              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 3, May 4, September 3
                              Prologue

                              And the Lord, seeking his laborer
                              in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
                              says again,
                              "Who is the one who will have life,
                              and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
                              And if, hearing Him, you answer,
                              "I am the one,"
                              God says to you,
                              "If you will have true and everlasting life,
                              keep your tongue from evil
                              and your lips that they speak no guile.
                              Turn away from evil and do good;
                              seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
                              And when you have done these things,
                              My eyes shall be upon you
                              and My ears open to your prayers;
                              and before you call upon Me,
                              I will say to you,
                              'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).

                              What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
                              than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
                              Behold, in His loving kindness
                              the Lord shows us the way of life.

                              REFLECTION

                              This is perhaps my all-time favorite reading from the Holy Rule. Then
                              gentle, loving tenderness of both the Divine Merciful Christ and our
                              holy Father Benedict are here in abundance. One is tempted to merely
                              bask in the warmth, rather than write, but I will try to write!

                              Lest any of us (which, as the Holy Rule would say, God forbid,) tend
                              to pride at undertaking the monastic way, this one deflates that
                              balloon in a hurry. Christ seeks US. What mercy! Our very being is
                              nothing but an act of His love and mercy, all that we have is His
                              love and His mercy, yet, on top of all that, He seeks US! We're
                              talking God here, not some other created being. We're talking the
                              Alpha and Omega, end all and be all, the First Cause, you name it.
                              The very force of life and light and truth and love and mercy in the
                              cosmos, before all time, names us, knows us and calls us.

                              He ALREADY calls us His laborers, even before we answer. He knows
                              intimately and well, from personal experience, the fouled up chaotic
                              mess in which we lived. He has lived in it, too. he tenderly calls us
                              to "true and everlasting life" and assures us that He knows the way.
                              In fact, He *IS* the Way!

                              I can gush a bit writing about the Prologue, so indulge me here as I
                              do so. Beloveds, for so you are to me, our fractured hearts and sin-
                              veiled eyes just cannot see the way, nor can we name the hurts or
                              their cures well. God and God alone can pierce that darkness and He
                              offers to do so before we even ask. This is awesome grace, this is
                              enough for a lifetime's meditation on humility. Hard things to come
                              in the struggle are real, but their harshness is in some way
                              illusory: "Behold, in His loving-kindness, the Lord shows us the way
                              of life."

                              It is solely because of heaven and Christ for all eternity that every
                              suffering, every cross can be diminished into absolute nothingness by
                              the greatness of the reward. Yes, He shows us the way to life, but,
                              as a wonderfully Dominican Doctor of the Church, St. Catherine of
                              Siena, taught us: "All the way to Heaven *IS* Heaven, because He
                              said: 'I am the Way.' "

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

                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Br. Jerome Leo
                              +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and phsyical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Mother Mary
                              Message 14 of 30 , Jan 3, 2009
                                +PAX

                                Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and phsyical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                                Mother Mary Elizabeth, on her feastday and for the happy death and etenal rest of Br. Aelred Seton, on one of his two feastdays. May St. Elizabeth Ann Seton intercede for us all.

                                An 82 year old woman who is in the hospital after having a mild heart attack shortly after Christmas. She's doing okay, but the family requests prayers for her speedy recovery.

                                Some young adults who seem to be slowly falling away from the Church. Their mother (a widow) is very concerned about them and asks for prayers for all of them, and for herself, that she will know how to wisely deal with the situation.

                                Prayers requested for Sr. Mary Joseph all her family and extended family, for graces for them for the coming New Year.

                                Chris and Shawna, that controversy around needed repairs to their rental home be solved.

                                Ann, angina and going on retreat soon.

                                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 4, May 5, September 4
                                Prologue

                                Having our loins girded, therefore,
                                with faith and the performance of good works (Eph. 6:14),
                                let us walk in His paths
                                by the guidance of the Gospel,
                                that we may deserve to see Him
                                who has called us to His kingdom (1 Thess. 2:12).

                                For if we wish to dwell in the tent of that kingdom,
                                we must run to it by good deeds
                                or we shall never reach it.

                                But let us ask the Lord, with the Prophet,
                                "Lord, who shall dwell in Your tent,
                                or who shall rest upon Your holy mountain" (Ps. 14:1)?

                                After this question,
                                let us listen to the Lord
                                as He answers and shows us the way to that tent, saying,
                                "The one Who walks without stain and practices justice;
                                who speaks truth from his heart;
                                who has not used his tongue for deceit;
                                who has done no evil to his neighbor;
                                who has given no place to slander against his neighbor."

                                This is the one who,
                                under any temptation from the malicious devil,
                                has brought him to naught (Ps. 14:4)
                                by casting him and his temptation from the sight of his heart;
                                and who has laid hold of his thoughts
                                while they were still young
                                and dashed them against Christ (Ps. 136:9).

                                It is they who,
                                fearing the Lord (Ps. 14:4),
                                do not pride themselves on their good observance;
                                but,
                                convinced that the good which is in them
                                cannot come from themselves and must be from the Lord,
                                glorify the Lord's work in them (Ps. 14:4),
                                using the words of the Prophet,
                                "Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
                                but to Your name give the glory" (Ps. 113, 2nd part:1).
                                Thus also the Apostle Paul
                                attributed nothing of the success of his preaching to himself,
                                but said,
                                "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
                                And again he says,
                                "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Cor. 10:17).

                                REFLECTION

                                Ever have that funny feeling of surprise that the world and time and
                                life and events go resolutely on, even when you are stalled in
                                heartbreak? It is a strange egocentricity that allows us to feel
                                that. I remember clearly such a feeling when my father died. I was
                                not quite eleven. My world was shattered, everything had stopped or
                                changed or been put on hold.

                                Child that I was, it stunned me slightly to notice from the car
                                window on the way to the cemetery that it was just another sunny day
                                for everyone else. People were working, shopping, going to school.
                                The world WAS going on, nothing had changed for them. It made me feel
                                strangely even more alone in my pain: he wasn't as important to the
                                rest of the world as he was to me.

                                We can still have these feelings as adults, but hopefully we are at
                                least more used to them and less inclined to think the world really
                                DOES stop when we think it should. Tough though they can still be,
                                they are reality and reality is truth and truth, after all, is not
                                only humility but also what Jesus called Himself.

                                What does all this have to do with the Prologue? The same sort of
                                really unfortunate egocentricity can let us think that we are the
                                center of the known universe in other ways, can allow us to foolishly
                                think that our gifts or the tiny packets of virtues we have stashed
                                here and there are our own. No way, folks! It is grace, it is gift,
                                ALL is gift, beginning with our very existence!

                                Everything good, in every way is all from God, not us. We dare glory
                                in nothing but Him, for we would be less than nothing without His
                                grace acting in us. Picture a battery operated toy, that someone else
                                skillfully made, without a battery. Beginning to get the picture?

                                If a city has clean, wondrous, spring water, no one in their right
                                mind praises the pipes. No, one praises the purity of the Source. So
                                it is with us, m'dears, pipes one and all, nothing more or less. God
                                is the Source, God's mercy and love and grace and gift are the purest
                                of waters. We are His conduits and we dare not glory, except in the
                                Lord! "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give the glory!"

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






                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Br. Jerome Leo
                                +PAX Prayers, please, for someone who is depressed, for spiritual, mental and physical well-being. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best.
                                Message 15 of 30 , Jan 4, 2009
                                  +PAX

                                  Prayers, please, for someone who is depressed, for spiritual, mental and physical well-being.

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

                                  January 5, May 6, September 5
                                  Prologue (continued)

                                  Hence the Lord says in the Gospel,
                                  "Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them,
                                  I will liken to a wise person
                                  who built a house on rock.
                                  The floods came,
                                  the winds blew and beat against that house,
                                  and it did not fall,
                                  because it had been founded on rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).

                                  Having given us these assurances,
                                  the Lord is waiting every day
                                  for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions.
                                  And the days of this life are lengthened
                                  and a respite granted us for this very reason,
                                  that we may amend our evil ways.
                                  As the Apostle says,
                                  "Do you not know that God's patience is inviting you to repent" (Rom.
                                  2:4)?
                                  For the merciful Lord tells us,
                                  "I desire not the death of the sinner,
                                  but that the sinner should be converted and live" (Ezech. 33:11).

                                  REFLECTION

                                  People like me are very prone to regard repentance with the same
                                  eagerness that we ordinarily reserve for cleaning the
                                  refrigerator: "I'll get around to that..." Truth is, I rarely do.
                                  What happens instead is that one of our wonderful Oblates, Richard of
                                  Springfield (who gets this daily reflection,) comes for a weekend and
                                  cleans the icebox. Hallelujah! Saint Richard!! Thank you, Richard!
                                  Richard cleans like a dream and my world looks a lot better whenever
                                  he's been here!

                                  If you are not like me, and your icebox has ALWAYS been clean, is
                                  buffed up every week to shining glory and you carry a damp washcloth
                                  every time you open the fridge just in case, then fine, this portion
                                  was not written for you. However, it should be noted that even
                                  immaculate icebox types may have to check behind the icebox or take a
                                  look at the oven.... I mean, if you want to be REALLY perfect, you
                                  could move the fridge and wax the floor underneath- with paste wax
                                  and a buffer, of course!

                                  Get my point? This is surely written for most of us. Most of us have
                                  some sort of a grungy corner that we'll "get to tomorrow," if ever.
                                  St. Benedict is reminding us again that "Now is the acceptable
                                  time..." St. Isaac of Syria said: "This life has been given to you
                                  for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits."

                                  Sadly, people like me hear in St. Isaac's words: "This life has been
                                  given to you for icebox cleaning..." Yeah, right! Oh boy, what a thrill!
                                  Such a gift! Just can't wait to get up each morning! And we shrug and walk
                                  away. Why? Because the typically monastic idea of repentance is very
                                  different from that of our modern Christianity.

                                  We tend to look at repentance as necessary in proportion to guilt.
                                  The early monastics saw it as necessary for everyone, period. We
                                  would almost chuckle at the idea of a virgin martyr of twelve in the
                                  Roman world repenting. "Of what?" we'd incredulously ask. The early
                                  monastic would see no problem there at all. Repentance, from a
                                  monastic and Benedictine view, is needful to for all because all are
                                  fallen, all are incapable of living the Christian life without God
                                  and grace. All of us, left to their own whims, would fall short of the
                                  monastic struggle.

                                  The repentance we speak of here is similar to that of Baptism, but
                                  not identical. Certainly one can be saved without entering the
                                  monastic way (or cleaning refrigerators, for that matter!) What St.
                                  Benedict is speaking of here is the special road of the monastic
                                  struggle. Plenty of saints, in fact most saints, were neither monks
                                  nor Benedictines. Big news there!

                                  What St. Benedict is saying is "OK, this is our approach. There are,
                                  of course, others, but if you want to use ours, you this is what you have
                                  to do." "Repent!" St. John the Baptist cried again and again in the desert,
                                  and somewhere along the way of that preaching, Jesus, the Lamb of God,
                                  stepped into the Jordan. Face it, folks, if He can answer the call to repent,
                                  anyone can! He had no need at all!

                                  What our repentance affirms is that we cannot become monastics with no
                                  trouble: our natures make that impossible. On our monastic way to
                                  God, many, many human things stand in our hearts and in our way.
                                  That's what we repent and shall always have to repent. Whenever our
                                  focus, our purity of heart is fragmented in any way, that's what we
                                  have to repent.

                                  Now, after writing this, you might safely assume that I am off to
                                  clean the refrigerator, but you would be wrong. I mean, after all,
                                  Richard IS visiting again soon and maybe he wouldn't mind starting
                                  the painting a little bit late... LOL! (Richard really does paint,
                                  though. Like a pro! Most of the new paint in the house is his work.)

                                  All joking aside, great thanks are due to many of our Oblates and
                                  guests, all of whom make ours a shared ministry of hospitality. This
                                  great team effort results in people being a lot more comfortable here! Say
                                  a prayer of thanks with me for all of them! All of them help us receive
                                  Christ at our door.

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

                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Br. Jerome Leo
                                  +PAX Prayers for the eternal rest of the 25 or more killed in a bomb attack at Cairo s St. Mark s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, and for the dozens more injured.
                                  Message 16 of 30 , Dec 12, 2016

                                    +PAX

                                     

                                    Prayers for the eternal rest of the 25 or more killed in a bomb attack at Cairo’s St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, and for the dozens more injured. Prayers for the families of all, for all who mourn the departed, and for the conversion and repentance of whoever is responsible for the attack.

                                     

                                    Deo gratias and prayers of thanksgiving for Matt, who got an A in his psychology class. Continued prayers for him, as he is trying to balance studies while working full-time.

                                     

                                    Prayers for the 38 killed and 155 injured in bomb attacks at an Istanbul soccer stadium, for the eternal rest of the dead, the recovery of the injured and the families of all and all who mourn those killed. Prayers for the repentance and conversion of those responsible for the attacks.

                                     

                                    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 13, August 13, December 13
                                    Chapter 59: On the Sons of Nobles and of the Poor Who Are Offered

                                    If anyone of the nobility offers his son to God in the monastery
                                    and the boy is very young, let his parents draw up the document which
                                    we mentioned above; and at the oblation let them wrap the document
                                    itself and the boy's hand in the altar cloth. That is how they offer
                                    him.

                                    As regards their property, they shall promise in the same petition
                                    under oath that they will never of themselves, or through an
                                    intermediary, or in any way whatever, give him anything or provide
                                    him with the opportunity of owning anything. Or else, if they are
                                    unwilling to do this,
                                    and if they want to offer something as an alms to the monastery for
                                    their advantage, let them make a donation of the property they wish
                                    to give to the monastery, reserving the income to themselves if they
                                    wish.
                                    And in this way let everything be barred, so that the boy may have no
                                    expectations whereby (which God forbid) he might be deceived and
                                    ruined, as we have learned by experience.

                                    Let those who are less well-to-do make a similar offering. But those
                                    who have nothing at all shall simply draw up the document and offer
                                    their son before witnesses at the oblation.

                                    REFLECTION

                                    This is the chapter that allows us to have (and be!) Oblates. How
                                    different would all of our lives be if this chapter had never been
                                    written! While I dwell on the Order as a whole in this reflection,
                                    how drastically different and how impoverished my life would be
                                    without Oblates. How very deeply my life is shaped by so many of you
                                    and how very grateful for that I am!

                                    Reflect a moment on how rich your life WOULDN'T be if you had no
                                    Benedictine family, if the Order had never even been founded. Think
                                    about brothers, sisters and friends whom you would not know, about
                                    what you would have missed. For starters, many of us would not be
                                    members on at least a couple of the forums this appears on- they
                                    wouldn't exist! Our wonderful fraternity in cyberspace would have
                                    never happened at all.

                                    In my own life there would have been no St. Leo, no Brother Patrick,
                                    no Petersham nor Pluscarden. My college degree would never have
                                    happened and my dear friend, Jean Ronan, would never have even met
                                    me, let alone taught me theology.

                                    Every single thing I ever received from the Benedictine Order, all the
                                    example, all the awe and joy, and yes, even all the pain that formed
                                    me, would never have existed, nor would I have had any role in the
                                    lives of my Benedictine family of brothers and sisters. Nada. Zilch.

                                    Often the best way to access a treasure is to imagine its loss. We
                                    can take for granted things which are of inestimable value. Make
                                    today's chapter an opportunity for such an assessment. Carry it even
                                    further, to some other dear and wonderful things in your life. What
                                    if there were no Church? What if you had no family ? (I know, I
                                    know... sometimes that sounds tempting! But even in dysfunctional
                                    families, you would NEVER be exactly who you are without them.) Often
                                    the best appreciation of how things are can be had by such
                                    reflections!

                                    We all owe a great, great deal to St. Benedict and to his sons and
                                    daughters. Let us pray for our Benedictine family and give thanks,
                                    deep thanks for the gift we have all received!



                                    Love and prayers,

                                    Jerome, OSB
                                    www.stmarysmonastery.org

                                    Petersham, MA

                                     

                                     

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