Holy Rule for Feb. 6
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
June, who had to have her beloved cat, Cleo, put to sleep.
Freddie, here's something going on at the two tumor sites in his brain. They are going to do MRIs of the spine, as this kind of tumor can spread to the spine. For all his doctors and for his wife, Linda.
On Monday 2/9/2009 Sandy is going to have a cardiac catheterization to open several blocked heart arteries.
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 6, June 7, October 7
Chapter 7: On Humility
The ninth degree of humility
is that a monk restrain his tongue and keep silence,
not speaking until he is questioned.
For the Scripture shows
that "in much speaking there is no escape from sin" (Prov. 10:19)
and that "the talkative man is not stable on the earth" (Ps. 139:12).
Well, you can safely bet that I fail this one right and left.
Obedience is essential to humility, but as we climb the steps, other
virtues that figure in humility are presented to us. Why is silence
important? Because when someone like me is shooting his mouth off all
the time, whether being really funny, or just thinking he is, offering the
world choice observations of his "exquisite" wisdom, what's really
going on is a desire to be at the center of things, to be star and
protagonist. Lights, camera, action! Why?
If I am bored- and I often am- I make a joke, create my own
excitement, change the human situation I have walked into to suit MY
needs. Maybe others weren't bored at all, even if they politely laugh
and seem to enjoy it. That trait doesn't say much for my depth.
I need to be entertained? Hello!?!? Can't I find enough material in
silence to keep me busy? What's really going on here? Short attention
span much? I can get so absorbed in elevating humor and speech as
positive, necessary goods that I can easily forget that both can be
tools of control, and control is not for the humble.
Naming that does not mean I do not have to work at change. I do. I
think it was Flannery O'Connor who said that accepting ourselves does
not preclude an effort to be better. Change may be so gradual that
none will ever notice, but every time I resist any useless temptation
to open my mouth, there is a small victory.
Face it, we think a lot of what we have to say is important because we
think WE are important, or funny or clever. We truly have divinely created
dignity, but that is not usually what is employed in making these decisions
Silence is not incompatible with charity or cheerfulness. Brother
David Gormican, OSB, of St. Leo, now gone to God, was a paragon of
this step (actually, of all of them!) Brother would speak first if he
needed something, but otherwise, he waited until he was spoken to or
asked something. No surprise that he usually looked very recollected:
When he was called on to speak, it was always cheerfully and
with something I can only describe as sweetness. I don't mean he was
sugary, I mean sweetness in the best possible sense. When Brother
David DID speak, one would never think that silence was unloving; all
his compassion and love just shone right through.
Brother David was truly a saint. No doubt, had he wished to run off
at the mouth as I do, he could have given you all much better and
deeper wisdom and holiness than me. But part of his holiness was
silence and his humility allowed people far less bright (like me,) to
talk all they wanted, unchallenged.
On the rare occasion when he wouldn't leave something unchallenged,
the weight of a well-chosen phrase or two of his would offset pages of prose!
Part of the reason his words bore such weight is that he was so usually
silent that people LISTENED when he spoke. Sadly, that is not true for most of
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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).
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,
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.
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,