A blessed Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul to everyone!
Prayers, please, for Anthony, a young man who committed suicide, for
his family and his best friend Aaron, all of them suffer in this
terrible matter. Aaron is the son of our Oblate Richard Pieczarka and
his wife, Mary Lou, so pray for them, too. Everyone hurts when a
loved one hurts.
Prayers, also, for John Green, who is having terrible dental pain and
complications. Pray that his next appointment offers him some badly
needed relief and healing. God's will is best. Thanks so much. NRN JL
February 28, June 29, October 29
Chapter 22: How the Sisters Are to Sleep
Let each one sleep in a separate bed.
Let them receive bedding suitable to their manner of life,
according to the Abbess's directions.
If possible let all sleep in one place;
but if the number does not allow this,
let them take their rest by tens or twenties
with the seniors who have charge of them.
A candle shall be kept burning in the room until morning.
Let them sleep clothed and girded with belts or cords --
but not with their knives at their sides,
lest they cut themselves in their sleep --
and thus be always ready to rise without delay
when the signal is given
and hasten to be before one another at the Work of God,
yet with all gravity and decorum.
The younger shall not have beds next to one another,
but among those of the older ones.
When they rise for the Work of God
let them gently encourage one another,
that the drowsy may have no excuse.
Hastening "yet will all gravity and decorum" has prompted many a
community joke, many a wry comment as one ran most ungracefully,
parts of the habit flapping wildly in the breeze, to whatever the
bell was about to make one late for! St. Benedict far antedates the
Three Stooges, but he still took precautions to ensure that we would
not look EXACTLY like Moe, Larry and Curly when we went to choir or
dinner! Admittedly, some of our human tendency still arises to give a
partial glimpse of that comedic trio, but, as always, the picture is
The idea of sexual temptations being thwarted by a lamp burning and
fully clothed juniors interspersed among seniors has been mentioned,
but there is also another very pragmatic rationale. First off, the
young, even in monasteries, tend to giggle. No point in turning grand
silence into a noisy slumber party! Even more importantly, the
elderly may have problems during the night if their health is
declining. Hale and hearty (and hopefully easily awakened!) juniors
nearby promise them assistance, if needed. Of course, if you want a
humorous take on the knives issue, it may have been to prevent mayhem
and murder of snorers, an idea which has occurred to many light
Of course, dormitory sleeping is a thing of the past in our Order
today, but its nice to see that thoughtfulness behind its original
expression in the Holy Rule. There's a bit of the "mother" in St.
Benedict, going out of his way to mention a small detail like not
sleeping with knives. It is worthy of note, however, that St.
Benedict, as always is MODERATELY maternal, not neurotically so! He
doesn't get all bent out of shape, but he cares greatly and deeply.
One of the most beautiful images in this passage is the exhortation
to "gently encourage one another" at the hour of rising. Remember
that the strictest silence of all prevailed at this time. Now picture
the monastics gently encouraging one another! With no words, there
had to be a lot of touch, a lot of gentle smiles, a lot of warmth and
care expressed NON-verbally.
A very good idea of how loving a monastic is can be had by disturbing
their silence (or sleep, I imagine!!) Is the reaction cross and
withering? Watch out for that one! Is there a smile, even a warm one,
a reaction of sweetness? Well, when silence is over, that is a
monastic to whose words you may want to listen carefully.
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery