Holy Rule for Feb. 9
Please pray for Michael and all who are in harm's way in Iraq.
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 9, June 10, October 10
Chapter 7: On Humility
The twelfth degree of humility
is that a monk not only have humility in his heart
but also by his very appearance make it always manifest
to those who see him.
That is to say that whether he is at the Work of God,
in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road,
in the fields or anywhere else,
and whether sitting, walking or standing,
he should always have his head bowed
and his eyes toward the ground.
Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment,
he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment
and constantly say in his heart
what the publican in the Gospel said
with his eyes fixed on the earth:
"Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven"
(Luke 18:13; Matt. 8:8);
and again with the Prophet:
"I am bowed down and humbled everywhere" (Ps. 37:7,9; 118:107).
Alcoholics Anonymous jokes about what they call "Two-steppers," that
is, people who decide to jump right from Step 1, acknowledging their
problem, to Step 12, carrying the message to others, with nothing in
between! Wrong! Doesn't work that way...
Benedictines sometimes see a similar mistake in novices and humility.
Bingo, they go right to the twelfth degree with nothing to build
their external humility on but the images of popular fiction and such.
My friend, Bishop Basil, tells me that his Spiritual Father used to tell him:
"Beware the monk whose humility you're always tripping over." Amen!!!
Genuine humility is not affected or showy, it is quite the reverse!
People who learn that have a chance to stay, people who don't often
leave because no monastery fits their model, though they
may keep looking for one that does!
Second Section of the Reading:
Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore,
the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God
which casts out fear.
And all those precepts
which formerly he had not observed without fear,
he will now begin to keep by reason of that love,
without any effort,
as though naturally and by habit.
No longer will his motive be the fear of hell,
but rather the love of Christ,
and delight in the virtues
which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit
in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.
This crucially important second part is why none of those two-steppers
quite make it AND why the first section is spared from
Jansenism. (Jansenism, you may recall, was a heresy which held that
we could NEVER be worthy, NEVER do enough penance and so forth. In
its sad extremes, it harked to a sort of Pelagian attitude, implying
that we might be able to do something to save ourselves if we did a lot of
But, of course, even that would never be enough. It was a terribly mean
idea of God.)
Humility is NOT affected, not presupposing, hence efforts to LOOK
humble when one is not so will fall woefully short of the mark. No
Academy Awards for this one! When they call for the envelope, it will
Genuine humility is the most unself-conscious thing in the
world. It produces the external demeanor without any further ado,
because the person actually (and usually unwittingly!) BECOMES the
truth they are striving to live. Humility shows up in the face, in
everything, just as years of bitterness or years of love often do.
You couldn't hide humility if you wanted to, but you don't need to,
because the true humility is rarely even noticed and those who are
less humble tend to discount the really humble as nobodies. In one
sense, they are quite right! Both would agree on that!
If one never gets to the joy and love of the end of this passage,
there will be no reason not to look artificially rather glum over
sins that one probably doesn't believe at heart are great anyhow.
This is where some monastics miss the mark. They can stop at the
perpetual gloom and dread point, without realizing the contemplative
joy and love beyond that.
Monasticism is true, but the Gospel is more so. Neither Jansenism nor
perpetual gloom would play very well with Matthew, Mark, Luke or
John. That means they wouldn't play well with St. Benedict, either,
as his second portion surely guarantees. Love and joy and humility
are an inseparable trio! When fear is cast out, gloom goes right
along with it!
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,