Catching up... Missed reading
- Since last year was a Leap Year and this year is not, a reading got skipped that should have been appended to the 28th. Here it is:
February 29, June 30, October 30
Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults
(If there is no 29th of Feburary, append this entry to the previous.)
If a brother is found to be obstinate,
or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
If he fails to amend,
let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be placed under excommunication,
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
if he is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.
It is sad, indeed, that a chapter like this ever had to be written,
sad in St. Benedict's time, sad in our own. How little human beings
change in some ways! Why on earth would anyone come to a monastic
struggle with an attitude that says: "I know better. I'm right and
they're wrong."? Why would anyone persist in staying with such an
Because they are blind. It's another favorite trick of Satan.
or clouded assessments of the reality at hand are his forte.
Especially when these phony lenses get applied to religious matters,
the obstinacy and self-righteousness can go to extremes.
Look, beloveds, every single one of us, from the newest Oblate
candidate to the Abbot Primate, came to the monastic life, to the
Holy Rule, to be CHANGED. We came to learn, not to teach. We came to
reform ourselves, not the monastery. We not only arrived with that
attitude, we must keep it all of our lives. We came to surrender,
That's why this chapter is both so very sad and so very important.
The monastic at any point in life who has renounced that attitude of
discipleship has abandoned the struggle. We must hope it is a
temporary abandonment, because it can be fatal to one's vocation. It
can undo all the good work we have behind us. It can delude us into
thinking we are persevering when we have actually long ago quit.
Superiors and community (or family!) can be a big reality check here
and that is what this chapter seeks to provide. Gentleness, love and
tact are in order, but something must be done. One must be very
careful at such times not to lord it over another smugly. But one
must also be very careful not to do nothing at all, especially if
is in authority. The risk to the falling member is too great to
If, alas, you find yourself to be that falling member, for heaven's
sake (quite literally!) LISTEN. That is such a Benedictine trait,
Holy Rule begins with that word. If others are that upset, there may
well be something wrong. Don't deny it. Check it out with all the
humility you can muster, but be very aware that your humility may
well be the thing that is currently terribly impaired. Be as honest
as truthful as you can. Try, try with all your strength, to let
yourself always be changed for the good, and strive to see that
even when it is hard.
If you are one of the lucky ones not in this leaking boat, be deeply
humbled and grateful to God. Pray every day for all of those in the
Order, the Church, the world, who are sinking. They need our prayers
badly. Think how different the Titanic might have been with enough
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,