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Holy Rule for Jan. 20

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Br. Tobias, OSB, for his monastic community, his family and for all who mourn him. Please pray
    Message 1 of 237 , Jan 19, 2009
      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Br. Tobias, OSB, for his monastic community, his family and for all who mourn him.

      Please pray that the US Congress and the new administration will respect all human life, from conception till natural death.

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


      January 20, May 21, September 20
      Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

      To fear the Day of Judgment.
      To be in dread of hell.
      To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
      To keep death daily before one's eyes.
      To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life.
      To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
      When evil thoughts come into one's heart, to dash them against Christ
      immediately.
      And to manifest them to one's spiritual mother.
      To guard one's tongue against evil and depraved speech.
      Not to love much talking.
      Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
      Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
      To listen willingly to holy reading.
      To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
      Daily in one's prayers, with tears and sighs, to confess one's past
      sins to God, and to amend them for the future.
      Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh; to hate one's own will.
      To obey in all things the commands of the Abbess, even though she
      herself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the
      Lord's precept, "Do what they say, but not what they do."
      Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be
      holy, that one may be truly so called.

      REFLECTION


      The first four on today's list are not very palatable to many modern
      ears, but, like all of the Instruments of Good Works, they are
      important, they are interrelated and each one helps one fulfill the
      others. Arguably, one could say that the focus of the first four is
      the fifth: "To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life."

      We have largely "gotten over" dreading Judgment. We went from a
      paralyzing, Jansenistic, scrupulous fear of it right into a smug
      assurance that everyone passes the test with honors. Well, there's got to
      be truth hidden between those two false extremes somewhere!

      I know, beyond any doubt that I shall be both delighted and very,
      very embarrassed and ashamed to meet God face to face, to find that
      my faith has been confirmed. Ah, joy at the confirmation, but oh,
      crushing shame at the simultaneous confirmation of how very far short
      of Him I have fallen, through choice, through laziness, through
      negligence, through sin.

      One can dread that realization without thinking that God is some
      intrinsically mean sort, just waiting for one to trip up, hunting for the
      slightest loophole to nail us. Quite the opposite is the truth! God's awesome
      Divine Mercy seeks every possible way to bring us to Himself and
      His rewards of bliss. Every possible way!!

      Let us admit that we have been all too good at tripping
      on our own: God has no need to duplicate services there! Fearing
      judgment is part and parcel of knowing who we are. We have all
      sinned. And I know I have failed faith, hope and love, again and again
      and again, usually with no more excuse than selfishness.

      We keep goals in sight while training. Forget the Olympic gold and
      you will quite likely forget why you are training so hard. For us,
      between now and the "Olympics" of death, it is only the training that
      matters. It is also good to recall that, as Benedictines, our goal is
      NOT simply to "pass", but to stand on the podium.

      That's not because we are any better, it is only because
      we ourselves have added great holiness to our goal. Why else embrace
      the Rule? Keeping "death daily before our eyes," we are ALWAYS at
      the Olympics, thanks to our vow of conversion of manner of life, we
      are daily in training, every minute, in fact.

      All of these four lead to the fifth, keeping guard over one's
      actions, or mindfulness. Here is a great connection between the
      Benedictine way and the Buddhist way.

      The Buddhists have a saying that monastics can preach a sermon just
      by the way they walk. That's what the care of mindfulness can do!
      Just wait till we get to the 12th degree of humility, which says that
      the monastics' humility will shine through their outward appearance,
      whether walking or sitting or working or praying.

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

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers for the safe release of Fr. Chito and 13 others held hostage by militants in Marawi, Philippines. Prayers, too, for the eternal rest of the police
      Message 237 of 237 , May 25

        +PAX

        Prayers for the safe release of Fr. Chito and 13 others held hostage by militants in Marawi, Philippines. Prayers, too, for the eternal rest of the police chief there, who was beheaded, and for his family and all who mourn him. Prayers for the conversion and repentance of his killers and all the attackers. Prayers for all those affected in any way and for peace in this troubled region.

         

        Prayers for our Sr. Christine, whose 20th anniversary of solemn vows was yesterday, graces galore and many more, ad multos annos!

         

        Sue asked prayers for all who suffer hearing loss.

         

        Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. John Brioux, OMI, and for his family and all who mourn him.

         

        Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Peter D’Alesandre, and for his family and all who mourn him, especially Rachel.

         

        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 25, May 26, September 25
        Chapter 7: On Humility

        Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying,
        "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,
        and he who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
        In saying this it shows us
        that all exaltation is a kind of pride,
        against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard
        when he says,
        "Lord, my heart is not exalted,
        nor are mine eyes lifted up;
        neither have I walked in great matters,
        nor in wonders above me."
        But how has he acted?
        "Rather have I been of humble mind
        than exalting myself;
        as a weaned child on its mother's breast,
        so You solace my soul" (Ps. 130:1-2).


        Hence, brethren,
        if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility
        and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation
        to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life,
        we must
        by our ascending actions
        erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream,
        on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending.
        By that descent and ascent
        we must surely understand nothing else than this,
        that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.
        And the ladder thus set up is our life in the world,
        which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled.
        For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder,
        and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted
        the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.

        REFLECTION

        Today we begin St. Benedict's exhaustive treatment of humility.
        Humility and obedience are so closely linked that it is virtually
        impossible to speak of one without adding the other. Since both are
        essential Benedictine virtues, it is easy to say that there is no
        such thing as a holy Benedictine who has not climbed or is not
        climbing this ladder. I have never known a holy monk who was not
        humble, in fact, it was usually their most outstanding trait.

        A lot of this chapter will grate on modern ears. I will be the first
        to admit that some people need assertiveness training. However, in my
        experience, most of us do not. Most of us manage to be assertive on a
        daily- even hourly- basis without much difficulty. Remember, too,
        that modern psychology is a science which, like all science, is
        limited to observable data.

        Hence, it is not surprising that the generalities of psychology deal
        with relations between people and visible, created things. The catch
        here is that the humility St. Benedict speaks of is rooted in
        relationship of humans to God, a sphere in which psychology often
        finds itself woefully out of its element. It can see some things
        amiss, but not all. It lacks the supernatural basis of faith, and
        this impedes it in this area. Balance, always balance.

        A quickie on the Psalm quote today: "...neither have I walked in
        great matters, nor in matters above me." This would appeal to
        Brother Patrick Creamer, my late mentor. He learned to do it quite
        well and in just 45 years or so!! Say a special prayer for Patrick's
        eternal rest with God.

        I speak as one who has been all too focused at many times on the
        monastic soap opera, its hand-wringing tempests in teacups. About
        many things, even most, we must learn simply not to meddle, not to
        trouble ourselves with matters too great, even though we may have to
        call them "great" with an inner, rueful chuckle.

        You will never have peace until you learn to leave all that alone, to
        distrust it for the empty and tragic charade that it truly is. And
        you will never get anywhere if you don't have peace. The road to that
        peace is humility and love, both effective vaccinations against the
        fatal disease of power.

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

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