Prayers, please, for Marianne, an Oblate who suffered a stroke on
Monday. Prayers, too, for Francisco and Misha, whose hearts are
seeking God. God's will is best! Thanks so much. NRN JL
February 25, June 26, October 26
Chapter 19: On the Manner of Saying the Divine Office
We believe that the divine presence is everywhere
and that "the eyes of the Lord
are looking on the good and the evil in every place" (Prov. 15:3).
But we should believe this especially without any doubt
when we are assisting at the Work of God.
To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words,
"Serve the Lord in fear" (Ps. 2:11)
and again "Sing praises wisely" (Ps. 46:8)
and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to You" (Ps.
Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves
in sight of the Godhead and of His Angels,
and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way
that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.
Father Bede and I can be pretty wild and crazy when we're together,
even more so when nobody is listening! (Or when we THINK no one is
listening! The Rule's point is that Someone, the Lord, is always
listening!) We're good friends and we kid and tease a lot. Both of us
know we can say just about anything to the other and do!
However, when Father Giles of Pluscarden took us to lunch with his
friend, Countess Cawdor, you can bet that Father Bede and I were VERY
well-behaved, subdued and deferential to the max!!! We behaved
differently because of the woman the Countess is, and because we were
in her home, an ancient castle, not a sports bar with soccer on big
screens and face-painted patrons awash in Guinness.
Students act differently (usually worse, alas...) for a substitute
teacher. Employees are different when the boss is off for the day.
These assortments of different behavior are pretty much shot through
the human condition, though not necessarily always a good idea.
Sometimes, we conduct ourselves in an artificially nice (or wicked!)
manner because we do NOT know with whom we are dealing. Our
politeness or our shyness or boldness can be terribly false facades.
Whether our projections are attempts to be cool and with it or
decidedly cultured and subtle, they can be masks, and are at times!
The message here is no masks. Know Him in Whose presence and House
you are. But really KNOW Him. That can take a lifetime of trying on
and shedding as false different modes of conduct. God, like so many
things, is very Benedictine in His perfection, which stands between
the extremes of misconception in which we are prone to think of Him.
If you think God is pretty much like the strictest teacher you ever
had, who ran a real death camp of a classroom, guess again. You're
dead wrong. On the other hand, neither is God Lenny Bruce, though I
feel sure He has chuckled at some of my earthier moments more than
once! I have told God things I have never said to Father Bede, things
I would couch in more careful language if I DID tell them to Father
Bede. So far, God has not seemed to mind that at all.
God is Parent and Creator and we are always creatures, but we are not
always children. We have to grow to the adult relationship with God
that fortunate children eventually share with their parents. (If we
never got to do this, and many haven't, establishing such honesty
with God is going to be a bit of a chore... Keep trying!) As we grow
in our knowledge of God, our behavior around Him (and we are
ALWAYS "around Him", that's another clear message of the Holy Rule!)
changes. It becomes more real and more natural. It changes with a
very clear eye to Whom God is and who we are. It changes from
knowledge born of love and security.
We often panic and are less comfortable than God or the people we
think we are pleasing would ever wish us to be. During my visit to
Cawdor Castle, I was so busy being more polite than I'd ever been for
that long in my life that I ALMOST forgot how badly I wanted a
I was the only smoker in our group and the Countess, who had never
met me before, must have asked or noted somehow. At dessert, with no
fanfare, an ashtray appeared at my place at table, no fuss, no
ceremony, no problem. I was so stunned I had to ask to make sure it
really WAS an ashtray. The message was: "Be who you are, you're my
guest!" I wonder if the Countess knew how very much like God she was
at that moment: real grace and class. Yeah, and mercy, too!
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery