Holy Rule for Mar. 29
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Brittany who is sick with allergies and an eye infection, and for all her loved ones and all who take care of her.
Prayers for Frank's widow, Marlene and for their grown kids.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is
and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
March 29, July 29, November 28
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
let them apply themselves to reading
up to the end of the second hour.
At the second hour let Terce be said,
and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
At the first signal for the Hour of None
let everyone break off from her work,
and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
After the meal
let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.
On the days of Lent,
from morning until the end of the third hour
let them apply themselves to their reading,
and from then until the end of the tenth hour
let them do the work assigned them.
And in these days of Lent
they shall each receive a book from the library,
which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.
But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
to go about the monastery
at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
and see that there be no lazy sister
who spends her time in idleness or gossip
and does not apply herself to the reading,
so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
but also distracts others.
If such a one be found (which God forbid),
let her be corrected once and a second time;
if she does not amend,
let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
in such a way that the rest may take warning.
Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
at inappropriate times.
Lectio divina, sacred reading, is the Benedictine form of
contemplation, more ancient than many later forms, both Carmelite and
Athonite. Being so ancient, it comes with very few directions. Much
of its "method" has been developed and handed down by monastics over
the centuries since St. Benedict. Even in that embellished form, it
remains a very, very simple and efficient means to contemplative
prayer. One simply reads Scripture or the Fathers (or Mothers!)
slowly, reflectively, ruminating (like a cow chewing its cud!) on
each word and verse. As St. Romuald later observed, one waits like a
chick for whatever its mother gives it. One does not read to get
through the book. One reads to see if and when the Holy Spirit calls
us to higher prayer with a word or phrase that strikes the heart. At
that point, one should follow one's heart and not worry about
finishing the page! Cleared for takeoff!
It is interesting that St. Benedict weaves all these schedules of
contemplative reading and prayer together with his manual labor
concerns, without any ado. There's another example of the dignity and
holiness of work in a Benedictine theology. Our work, too, is prayer.
It must be. We must, somehow, learn to be all prayer. That same
ruminative mindfulness that colors our lectio must color our labor as
well. It is a different form of attention, a different form of
prayer, but it is prayer nonetheless! Just ask any gardener or cook
with a mystical heart or, for that matter, any toilet cleaner or
diaper changer of the same ilk!
The Carmelites prescribe mental prayer, which should, with
recollection, spread throughout one's day. The hesychasts of Mount
Athos, Romania and Russia stress the Jesus Prayer, said vocally until
it becomes automatic in the heart at all times. Both of these are
more explicit methodologies, but the Benedictine aim is the same:
prayer without ceasing, prayer in choir and garden and cell, prayer
at reading and prayer at work. Mindfulness of God at all times is the
contemplative goal of all these systems.
This is just my own opinion, but I am inclined to think that the
Dominican concept of contemplation comes closest to our own, largely
because of their love of study. Study, for the Dominican, is often
very similar to lectio in the Benedictine scheme of things. Why?
Because the Dominican seeks Truth, and Jesus said: "I am the Truth."
A Dominican could be reading Karl Marx and still know that every bit
of real, objective truth garnered from that reading would be yet
another shard, no matter how small, in the infinite mosaic of the
face of Christ. That is a mosaic none of us shall ever complete in
this life, but oh, how much more familiar He shall seem to us when we
meet Him because of it!
Maybe I'm just prejudiced, but I think that a Dominican education,
such as I had, is a wonderful preparation for Benedictine life.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Many ardent prayers for Mario, substance abuse problem and getting help and treatment, may he stay clean and sober. Prayers, too, for his parents, D. and M. and all his family.
Prayers for Kristen, young wife & mother with serious cancer. Parishioners are praying to Ven. Rose Hawthorne for a miracle.
Prayers for Diana and her daughter, Diana left the Church long ago, prayers that they both may return.
Many ardent prayers for Steve, in hospice, that he may get all the Sacraments, and for his wife and family and all who will mourn him. Divine Mercy chaplets, please, from those so inclined.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Kathy, who died in her sleep, and strength for her husband, Mark and for their family. Kathy was a very devout prayer warrior.
Continued ardent prayers for Josh, drug problems and hopefully already in treatment.
Prayers for Patty, 56, who has been home battling bacterial pneumonia for over a week.
Prayers for the eternal rest of 35 girls killed in a fire at a state-run home for youth in Guatemala, and for their families and all who mourn them. Prayers, too, for the other girls at that facility, where allegations of abuse have prompted riots from those housed there.
Prayers for a man estranged from his children for many years, that they resume contact with him.
Prayers for E., that she go to Confession, also for Liz, that she go to Confession. It has been many years for both.
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 14, July 14, November 13
Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen
An hour before the meal let the weekly servers each receive a drink
and some bread over and above the appointed allowance, in order
that at the meal time they may serve their brethren without
murmuring and without excessive fatigue. On solemn days, however,
let them wait until after Mass.
Immediately after the Morning Office on Sunday, the incoming and
outgoing servers shall prostrate themselves before all the brethren
in the oratory and ask their prayers. Let the server who is ending
his week say this verse: "Blessed are You, O Lord God, who have
helped me and consoled me." When this has been said three times and
the outgoing server has received his blessing, then let the
incoming server follow and say, "Incline unto my aid, O God; O
Lord, make haste to help me." Let this also be repeated three times
by all, and having received his blessing let him enter his service.
Families, and parents and caregivers, listen up! There's an
important lesson here. No task is too small to be blessed by
prayer. More than that, no task is so easy that it can be done
without God's help, so remember to thank Him. Of ourselves, we can
do nothing, literally nothing. All our strength and power comes from God.
Making dinner or washing the dishes? Take a quiet moment in the
midst of either to say "Help!" and "Thanks!" Two simple, one word
prayers. No matter how chaotic your household, everyone will find
time for at least that. God knows the details, knows your heart and
can readily fill in the blanks! We may think God needs essay-length
prayers, but He doesn't. He may enjoy hearing from us, but trust
me, we NEVER tell Him anything that's news to Him.
This chapter is not simply the humility and charity of service, it
is also the honest acknowledgment of complete helplessness without
God. For most folks, only sickness or debility will teach them
that. It may seem like nothing to bend down and pick up a pin off
the floor until a bad back makes that impossible. Handicaps hone
our perceptions of being in charge very, very well.
Of course, there is another side to simple things like serving
table, picking up pins and the like. One could not have done
anything without God's help, but ah, if one does them out of love
and care! Bingo! Double coupons, so to speak! If that pin got
carefully picked up because of a barefoot and running child, or a
beloved pet who is prone to "tasting" whatever she can find on the
floor, simplicity becomes a very much greater matter, indeed. Now
it is very close to the heart of God, and that is a wonderful place
By the way, though some might think me daft for saying this, it is
not at all that crazy. There is no reason why families could not
bless whomever is assigned to a domestic task for a week or month
or whatever. A simple prayer asking God to help them serve us all
and get over any rough times could be tastefully done without a lot
of fuss. This could really help drive home the message of the worthwhile
merit to be had in doing small things with love!
Love and prayers,