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Holy Rule for Feb. 3

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Lib, who died unexpectedly in her sleep, for all her family and all who mourn her, especially her sister,
    Message 1 of 53 , Feb 2, 2009
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      Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Lib, who died unexpectedly in her sleep, for all her family and all who mourn her, especially her sister, Dot.

      Belated prayers for Mary McQ. on her birthday.

      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 3, June 4, October 4
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The sixth degree of humility
      is that a monk be content
      with the poorest and worst of everything,
      and that in every occupation assigned him
      he consider himself a bad and worthless workman,
      saying with the Prophet,
      "I am brought to nothing and I am without understanding;
      I have become as a beast of burden before You,
      and I am always with You" (Ps:22-23).


      REFLECTION

      It is easy to miss the hardest word in this reading. Our eyes fly
      right away to the ones we want to argue with- and these days many
      want to argue with them! Slyly stuck into the first line is the
      precept that the monastic "be CONTENT with the poorest and worst of
      everything." The connection this time is not to obedience, but to
      other virtues in humility's service: simplicity, poverty and stability.

      Contentedness does not bide its time for a jump to something better,
      does not merely endure things, but accepts them rather matter-of-factly.
      Contented monastics aren't hunting for or wondering about something
      else, usually it doesn't even occur to them. Truly contented people,
      in monasteries or in marriage or in the world do not spend a lot of
      time on "what if?" or "what next?". In the 70's a lot of people loved
      the popular phrase on posters: "Bloom where you are planted." Quite
      possibly they never stopped to think exactly what that meant: being
      contented enough to blossom in any circumstance. Whoops! A little
      more teeth to that version!

      I know from sad personal experience: stability with divided attention,
      with tons of Plans B, C, and D, simply is not very effective. It is
      better than nothing, to be sure, but it is nearly nothing when
      compared with its power once all those distractions are dropped. We
      cannot drop them all at once, but we must try to stay rooted, ever
      more and more rooted.

      I knew one great monk who told me, at 83, that he had finally decided
      to stay! There was not even a hint of irony in his voice.
      On the other hand, I have known monks who were happy as clams and
      completely contented in their forties. It is a different struggle for
      each of us.

      Truly contented simplicity and stability are powerful, counter-
      cultural witnesses to offer this age. Materialism, consumerism and
      the short attention span rule. A consumerist society is actually
      fueled by provoking discontent: how else can superfluous consumption
      imposed?

      Every time one person, family or monastery gets even partially free
      of those constraints it is a powerful witness to those still bound.
      Most of us truly do not "need" more. The Holy Rule can teach us that,
      but not if we look at it through the lenses we have hauled along with
      us from the 21st century world. Those lenses are completely invested
      in our reaching the opposite- and false- conclusion.

      Two cautions here. Good ole Gulf coast Florida boy that I am, I can
      tell you that when one goes crabbing with a big floating washtub full
      of blue crabs tied to your belt, you never have to put a lid on it.
      Why? Because whenever one crab gets close to crawling out, the others
      will pull it down. Don't be surprised if something like this happens to you!

      Lots of people LOVE consumerist enslavement, or at least think they do!
      Your efforts to free yourself might be far less than applauded in many eyes,
      while some may actually try, like those crabs, to pull you back. Someone
      once remarked that we think nothing of people spending themselves, even
      dying in the pursuit of sports, bodybuilding, mountaineering and the like,
      but our secular culture has a VERY different view of those who spend them-
      selves in the pursuit of the spiritual.

      The other, equally important consideration is that simplicity is NOT
      just a way to save money- though it will free up plenty. The goal is
      not to hoard what you have saved, but to spread it around or, as St.
      Elizabeth Seton said: "Let us live simply, so that others may simply
      live." We can direct our goods ever so much more responsibly toward
      the common good, goods we had been tricked into believing we had to
      throw elsewhere in the service of greed!

      As to the "bad and worthless workman" line, where I expect there'll
      be a lot of dissent, well, that isn't St. Benedict or me. You'll have
      to argue with Jesus Himself on that one. He said that after we have
      done ALL that was commanded us, we should say we are nothing but
      unprofitable servants. Being God, I don't imagine He was mistaken.

      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, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Dave, recurrent
      Message 53 of 53 , Mar 13 8:38 AM
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        Prayers, please for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

        Dave, recurrent prostate cancer, seeing oncologist on the 18th, and for Elaine, his wife.

        Tom, upper erosive esophagitus, a stomach ulcer and hiatal hernia. The current meds are
        not helping the problem. Seeing doctor today.

        Joyce, who had surgery and several organs are filled with cancer.
        The family needs prayers as it is very hard for them to deal with the diagnosis.

        Carol, undergoing surgery to repair leg tendons on Thursday... for a safe operation, and a quick, comfortable, and complete recovery.

        Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Doris, who has gone to God, for all her family and 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

        March 13, July 13, November 12
        Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen

        Let the brethren serve one another, and let no one be excused from
        the kitchen service
        except by reason of sickness or occupation in some important work.
        For this service brings increase of reward and of charity. But let
        helpers be provided for the weak ones, that they may not be
        distressed by this work; and indeed let everyone have help, as
        required by the size of the community or the circumstances of the
        locality. If the community is a large one,
        the cellarer shall be excused from the kitchen service; and so also
        those whose occupations are of greater utility, as we said above.
        Let the rest serve one another in charity.

        The one who is ending his week of service shall do the cleaning on
        Saturday. He shall wash the towels with which the brethren wipe
        their hands and feet; and this server who is ending his week, aided
        by the one who is about to begin, shall wash the feet of all the
        brethren. He shall return the utensils of his office to the
        cellarer clean and in good condition,
        and the cellarer in turn shall consign them to the incoming server,
        in order that he may know what he gives out and what he receives
        back.

        REFLECTION

        I know some houses have moved away from having table waiters, but
        something is lost in that. We have cafeteria style first portions
        here, then the waiter goes around to offer seconds and clears the
        dishes. It isn't a really big deal, but it does have a great reward,
        as the Holy Rule points out. Because we are a small community, only
        8, everyone, even the Superior takes a turn at waiting.

        Formerly, in some houses (maybe in all, but I am not sure,) the
        Abbot would wait tables on Holy Thursday. There was a nice
        connection there: he who held the place of Christ waited on all on
        the feast of the Last Supper, and washed the feet of twelve in
        Church that day.

        The connection here is personalist. Waiting on people connects you
        very much to them, as any waiter could tell you. Restaurants may
        not pursue that connection to any depth, but a home situation, like
        a monastery, surely does. There's a great notion here for Oblates
        who
        do not live alone: take turns waiting. We can get slumped into Dad
        or Mom or husband or wife always being waiter or waited upon.
        Switch off, care for each other, in this and many, many other ways!

        There are tons of ways of serving another, serving each other, that
        have nothing at all to do with tables or dining. There are many,
        many, equivalent forms of foot-washing. Hunt for them diligently and
        practice them with deep love!

        Love and prayers,

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

        Petersham, MA





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