Brother Jerome's Reflection: March 19
Please pray for Joseph, 82 years old who was admitted to St Joseph Mercy in Ann Arbor Michigan with a blood clot in his leg. Prayers also for his wife, please..
Prayers, please, for Judy to be healed of Macular Degeneration in her right eye.
+Please pray the Divine Mercy will shine upon all those who have taken their own lives.+
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 19, July 19, November 18
Chapter 40: On the Measure of Drink
"Everyone has her own gift from God,
one in this way and another in that" (1 Cor. 7:7).
It is therefore with some misgiving
that we regulate the measure of others' sustenance.
Nevertheless, keeping in view the needs of the weak,
we believe that a hemina of wine a day is sufficient for each.
But those to whom God gives the strength to abstain
should know that they will receive a special reward.
If the circumstances of the place,
or the work
or the heat of summer
require a greater measure,
the superior shall use her judgment in the matter,
taking care always
that there be no occasion for surfeit or drunkenness.
it is true,
that wine is by no means a drink for monastics;
but since the monastics of our day cannot be persuaded of this
let us at least agree to drink sparingly and not to satiety,
because "wine makes even the wise fall away" (Eccles. 19:2).
But where the circumstances of the place are such
that not even the measure prescribed above can be supplied,
but much less or none at all,
let those who live there bless God and not murmur.
Above all things do we give this admonition,
that they abstain from murmuring.
Two things stand out here: the gentleness of St. Benedict and the
necessity of praising God in every circumstance.
St. Benedict admits he is hesitant to set forth a principle of how
much others he will never know might need for their sustenance. He
may not have seen just how many other people and lands and times he
was writing for, but he did see enough to be uneasy. This is not the
voice or tone of a relentless dictator whose undue hunger for control
finds his finger in every pie. This is a father who knows an
important fact: father may very well NOT always know best! Gentleness
and humility are two of the finest gems in any crown of authority.
Every bit as important, but hidden and even lost amidst worries about
how much a hemina is in metric, is the wonderful injunction that
those who lack must praise. However much we have of any good thing,
it is from God, not ourselves. How little we have may very well have
nothing to do with God at all.
Even if it does, even if He wills straitened times and tightened belts for
our good and growth, we must bless Him and not murmur or gripe. I can
assure you that, if I had all I wanted at earlier periods in my life, there
is very little chance I would be a monk and no chance at all that I would be
the person I am today. God used all those "lacks" as riches, as tools of most
exquisite precision. He knew what He was doing, I did not!
Look back at the Instruments of Good Works in Chapter 4 and the Steps
of Humility in Chapter 7 and you will find in both a statement of
this same principle. The monastic is not to complain or murmur, but
to be happy- even thankful!- for whatever is received. That gratitude
and joy is essential because everything that is received is a gift
from God. Everything. Realizing that is a tremendously important
piece of the puzzle in our monastic searching and striving.
As Christians and monastics, we have to check murmuring in ourselves,
but in others as well. Few like to do the latter, since issues of
human respect come into play and nobody wants to be thought THAT much
of a goody-goody. With skill and timing, however, one can learn to
stop murmuring, to sway the topic, to correct the offender without
making them feel like slime.
Sometimes it can be as simple as a gentle and cheerful assumption of
the opposite position. And there is always the old standby, said
kindly, with a shrug: "Oh, I don't know..." That's the whole secret of
fraternal correction: it cannot make the other feel less than they are, nor can
it make the one offering it proud! Corrections without love, in which
our own self-interests are entangled, our own agendas foremost,
usually should not be given.
The Desert Fathers taught that no fraternal correction should be given unless
we were sure selfish motive was not involved, not a bad idea at all! There
are surely cases or real spiritual peril, of grace sin in which corrections must
be given. Even then, there are time when we are not the ones who should do so.
Perhaps we can arrange for another who may be better heard to do so, but there are
times when we would not only not be heard, but may even provoke an obstinate
persistence in the other person.
Love and prayers,