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Holy Rule for Feb. 1

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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: an Abbot who is
    Message 1 of 54 , Jan 31, 2009
      +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:

      an Abbot who is unwell and may need surgery. I don't have details.

      Janet, very aggressive form of breast cancer

      Rudy, two strokes and two brain surgeries and still unconscious.

      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

      February 1, June 2, October 2

      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The fourth degree of humility
      is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
      when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
      and contradictions
      and even any kind of injustice,
      enduring all without growing weary or running away.
      For the Scripture says,
      "The one who perseveres to the end,
      is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
      and again
      "Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!

      And to show how those who are faithful
      ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
      the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
      "For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
      we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom.
      8:36).
      Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
      they go on with joy to declare,
      "But in all these trials we conquer,
      through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
      Again, in another place the Scripture says,
      "You have tested us, O God;
      You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
      You have brought us into a snare;
      You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
      And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
      it goes on to say,
      "You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).

      Moreover, by their patience
      those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
      in adversities and injuries:
      when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
      when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
      when forced to go a mile, they go two;
      with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
      and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).

      REFLECTION

      The awful trip here is the part about holding "fast to patience with
      a silent mind." How on earth does one begin to do that? The trend in
      consumerist Western society is pretty much to form people- no, let's
      call them what consumerism does: "consumers"- in a mold that ALWAYS
      listens to very noisy minds. That, after all, is the root of desire
      and consumption (clever play on words there!) and profit. Nothing
      else matters much to a consumerist society.

      It's not surprising that living, moving and having our being in such
      waters, we more or less acquire consumerist gills in order to
      breathe. However, the Gospel itself and the Holy Rule tell
      us that we must adopt a view which contradicts that of the secular
      world. Learning to do this is neither easy nor fast.

      The really hard thing here is that sometimes, even when we are right,
      we have to put up and shut up, so to speak. The Rule speaks of
      bearing injustice and false brethren. There are no qualifiers here
      that say: "You may think it is unjust, but the truth is otherwise."

      No, sometimes we must actually endure stuff that really is unjust,
      endure people that truly are false. As one very wise old monk of
      Pluscarden once said: "Some things will only be fixed by a cross in
      the cemetery." That is frighteningly true. Some people, some
      dysfunctions will go unchecked and there are only two things one can
      do about it: leave or endure.

      This may feel like denial to us. It isn't. That's not what's asked of
      us. I may feel very clearly that a person or situation is wrong,
      nearly know it, but what is asked of me is to react in a particularly
      controlled fashion, "with a silent mind."

      Non-judging also enters in here. We must have silent minds because,
      generally speaking, we cannot be sure what is going on! Someone
      we may think is at fault for giving us the silent treatment may be in such
      pain, mental or physical, that they have all they can do to bear that. It
      may have nothing to do with us at all. We are obliged to think the best of
      others

      Jesus did say, after all, the He is the Truth. He is not calling us
      to stupidity or denial, but to trust Him. He can well afford to call
      us to silent endurance. The briefest look at Jesus in His Passion can
      affirm His rights there. There was never a greater injustice done
      than that, nor was there ever a victim so innocent and completely
      undeserving of all that brutality.

      Why is the "silent mind" such a big deal? Because you cannot get
      anywhere spiritually without one. Your focus will be shattered. The
      messy bit here is that your focus can be shattered by things
      apparently worthwhile- the devil, after all is no fool.

      We can be tricked into spinning our wheels and expending all our
      emotional and spiritual energy on dead ends that look noble, or on
      things that truly are noble, but should not absorb all of our efforts or
      attention. We can distort our necessary caring and charity into anger
      and rage at injustice that does nothing other than perpetrate anger
      and rage in more religious attire. Big mistake there!

      Recall the last time you saw a mini-flame war, perhaps only
      a "skirmish", erupt in any setting . Probably, quite early on it stooped to
      hurling charges at people, not ideas. Whoops! Wrong way, folks. The
      holiest monks I know would not have even entered into that
      discussion. They would have smiled and maybe shrugged and gone to
      their room to read or pray.

      That's not denial, that's a fair assessment that Brother David (the
      elderly monk I have in mind,) of Saint Leo would have made correctly.
      Br. David was a very, very holy nobody and he knew that. It was a very
      freeing knowledge, one I completely lacked when I first lived with
      him. In point of fact, it was that holy humility, that "nobody-ness" that
      made Br. David truly a very awesome somebody: a saint in our midst.

      At the ripe old age of 18, I thought entering into heated
      argument was the thing to do. David, quite rightly, knew that it
      would result in a night (or day) of strife and nothing would be
      changed. David knew that a nickel-dime monk in Florida was not
      going to change the Church at all by fighting with other people who
      were similarly powerless. He was humble enough to go to his room. How
      I wish I had been that smart- then or now!

      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 our Sister Mary Paula, on her feastday, graces galore and many more! Ad multos annos! Prayers for Mary, on her birthday, graces galore and
      Message 54 of 54 , Jan 24

        +PAX

         

        Prayers for our Sister Mary Paula, on her feastday, graces galore and many more! Ad multos annos!

         

        Prayers for Mary, on her birthday, graces galore and many more! Ad multos annos!

         

        Deo gratias, Moira, for whom we prayed, safely delivered Victor, 11 lbs, and 2 oz., 22 inches long! Prayers, too, for all the family, Dad and brother, Angel and Angel 3rd, and for Gerry and Eva and Victor’s other set of grandparents.

         

        Prayers for three couples that need to get their marriages blessed and receive the Sacraments.

         

        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!

        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 would,
        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 extensive 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, along with charity, 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 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 finds itself woefully out
        of its element. It lacks the supernatural basis of faith; this impedes it in this
        area. Balance, always balance. Keep God in focus in these areas.
        The model is His greatness, not our own.

        A quickie on the Psalm quote today: "...neither have I walked in
        great matters, nor in matters above me." This was a favorite of
        Brother Patrick Creamer, my mentor. He learned to do it quite
        well and in just 46 years or so!! He'd laugh at my saying that.

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

        That's not apathy, simply a frank admission that, in many cases, others
        have charge of areas so that the rest need NOT worry or concern themselves.
        The purpose of the division of responsibility is to give the community the
        chance to focus their energy on the one thing really needful. This is especially
        true in monasteries, but the principle has applications in the workplace, too.
        In the latter, there may be times when one is morally obliged to get involved,
        but the key word is "morally". About trivia or non-essentials in any milieu,
        shrug, say nothing and keep your sanity.

        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.

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

         

         

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