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June 17

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please, for a clergyman who is thinking of leaving his ministry and his faith. God s will is best! Thanks. NRN JL February 16, June 17, October
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 17, 2003
      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for a clergyman who is thinking of leaving his
      ministry and his faith. God's will is best! Thanks. NRN JL

      February 16, June 17, October 17
      Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays

      The Morning and Evening Offices
      should never be allowed to pass
      without the Superior saying the Lord's Prayer
      in its place at the end
      so that all may hear it,
      on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up.
      Thus those who hear it,
      being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer
      when they say, "Forgive us as we forgive,"
      may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.


      But at the other Offices
      let the last part only of that prayer be said aloud,
      so that all may answer, "But deliver us from evil.

      REFLECTION

      The Our Father is THE Christian covenant of peace. If St. Benedict
      insists it be said aloud twice a day, it is because he knows well the
      tempests- nay, HURRICANES- in teacups that can spring up in any
      enclosed home group, be it cloister or family. Things get magnified
      inappropriately precisely because those we live with are dear to us.
      If they weren't, they would be much less able to hurt or annoy us!

      There weren't subways in St. Benedict's time, but there was a world
      outside. Picture yourself riding a subway with any or all of these
      types: an alcoholic, an abuser, a severely disturbed mental patient,
      a tragic drug addict. These are just the ones that we might notice,
      too. All of us on the subway ride daily with liars, thieves,
      adulterers and worse, we just don't know it. Even though the subway
      can offer a bit of a challenge to Christian peace, to forgiveness,
      one usually has only to wait for one's stop, hoping meanwhile that a
      transit cop will appear. If the situation is really frightening, one
      could get off early and catch the next train.

      In family or community, sometimes even in the workplace, we may not
      change trains. Not only that, but there are often no transit cops at
      all. (Even less than in Boston, where one may safely wonder how we
      can afford all those parked MBTA cruisers with so few officers ever
      in evidence to justify the expense....) Always remember that
      Christian life, Benedictine life, is never tested when it is easy.
      Alas, it is only through testing that we grow, that our practice
      improves.

      On the subway or bus, or even in the artificially detached situation
      of world newscasts, it can be a LOT easier to forgive. It comes at
      little or no price at all. It's pretty easy to forgive even horrible
      criminals if they have not harmed our home circle, if they have not
      directly harmed us. Hate to say it, folks, but the easy stuff is not
      where it's at for us. A 50 yard dash may be the beginnings of an
      Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, but it is never the whole
      picture.

      The key to Benedictine peace is forgiveness, which is why St.
      Benedict stresses that phrase and calls it a covenant. It truly IS a
      covenant of peace. We are daily asking God, twice out loud, but
      ideally many more times than that alone, to forgive us in the measure
      that we forgive. Whoa! Risky business there! Any chain's strength is
      decided by its weakest link, so think of the person you LEAST
      forgive. There you will have the model you are suggesting to God that
      He use in forgiving you. As Fr. Hugo used to say: "You love God as
      much as the one you love least."

      Fortunately, for most of us, I don't personally think God feels
      Himself completely bound by the terms we offer Him. If He did, I
      imagine heaven would be a quite appallingly empty place, indeed.
      Nevertheless, I'll bet He will remind us of the terms we offered and
      how little mercy they would afford us. That is one very good reason
      why Roman Catholics believe in Purgatory- a chance to shower off the
      terms we offered God that were so limited they would never cut anyone
      much slack!

      Roman Catholicism and most other mainline Christian denominations
      have not been known as peace churches, historically. They have not
      made the dogmatic necessity of pacifism that the Mennonites or
      Quakers have. Still, it is very hard to look at the Gospel itself or
      at the daily Our Fathers and understand how wars have happened in
      Christian history. The terms we have offered God as to how we would
      like to be forgiven have been far less than optimal. "OK, we will
      forgive you AFTER we have reduced your country to rubble and your
      population by say, 20-30% or more...." If God took (or takes!) us at
      our word, we shall be in deep trouble, indeed.

      If every monastery refectory, every dining room table and every
      workplace lunch room had perfect forgiveness and peace, there would
      likely be no war. Wouldn't happen, because genuine peace truly is
      contagious. Do you see why we have to start at home, to start small?
      It's the only place we have to begin.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery
      Petersham, MA
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