Holy Rule for Mar. 9
A blessed feast of St. Frances of Rome, patroness of Oblates, to all!
Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Erica, who died with her mothjer and father at her side, prayers, too, for her parents, all her family, and for all who mourn her.
Prayers for Sr. Mary Joseph's brother-in-law, having medical procedures done on 3/19.
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 9, July 9, November 8
Chapter 31: What Kind of Man the Cellarer of the Monastery Should Be
Above all things let him have humility;
and if he has nothing else to give
let him give a good word in answer
for it is written,
"A good word is above the best gift" (Eccles. 18:17).
Let him have under his care
all that the Abbot has assigned to him,
but not presume to deal with what he has forbidden him.
Let him give the brethren their appointed allowance of food
without any arrogance or delay,
that they may not be scandalized,
mindful of the Word of God as to what he deserves
"who shall scandalize one of the little ones" (Matt 18:6).
If the community is a large one,
let helpers be given him,
that by their assistance
he may fulfill with a quiet mind the office committed to him.
The proper times should be observed
in giving the things that have to be given
and asking for the things that have to be asked for,
that no one may be troubled or vexed in the house of God.
Many would shrug at a chapter like this saying: "I'm not cellarer.
What has that to do with me?" Everything, everything. This chapter,
like those on the Abbot, is a masterful view of Benedictine authority
and stewardship in any capacity. We should never presume to usurp
roles that are not our own, but in covering those roles, the Holy
Rule again and again gives models to ALL.
I am guestmaster, not cellarer, but this chapter reminds me that no
job is an empire, a turf, a personal fiefdom that one administers
temperamentally and without love. Jobs, for Benedictines in world or
monastery, are stewardships, not power trips. (At least that OUGHT to
be true. God save us, it is often otherwise...) If people have to
become so careful of a given official, wearing kid gloves at every
possible turn, something is very, very wrong. Now the community is
reduced to serving the official, when it is supposed to be the other
Of course, the needs of those who come to us at work or at home can
be overwhelming, even oppressive at times, but we are told not to
react to those buttons pushed, but to react with love and humility.
Whatever your job is, the reality is that if there were none with
needs, you would likely be unemployed. Always remember that. We
serve, we do not rule. Our call is to forget ourselves in service,
not to present our intransigent selves to be served.
Our motto is Peace, because St. Benedict knew how completely
essential to a fruitful monastic life inner peace was and is. That's
why he gives this really rather astounding principle: "...no one may
be troubled or vexed in the house of God." It's God's house, not
ours. Wake up, folks, if the maid is giving orders tyrannically,
something's wrong at the manor! It's not her house. It's His.
A certain amount of vexation is inevitable, and part of the monastic
struggle and very useful. A chronic, ulcerating source of repeated
vexation is not. If that comes through an official, something must be
done. If the numbers are too few to remove the official, then that's
what the penal code chapters are all about. But even then, God will bring
good out of this for those who love and trust Him.
To blame God's
will for all this stuff is not always correct. But God DOES permit things
can and does use such things to our growth and benefit. God's will works
around such stuff, in spite of it. He can use it, but we must let Him. He
use the very imperfections and even terrors of our situations to make us
if we but trust Him!
Love and prayers,
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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
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
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,
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