Holy Rule for June 14
Sorry I missed posting yesterday: big work party day at the Sisters' Priory on their new building. Prayers that they can complete it when they hope to.
Prayers for Michael LoPiccolo and his wife, Jen, on thier 51st wedding
anniversary. Michael does a lot for us and his many other lists and contacts, so
ardent prayers for them both. Ad multos annos, many more happy, holy years!
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Beth and her mother. Beth has pulmonary hypertension and is hospitalized with a bad exacerbation. She is not responding to the standard medications and the doctors aren't sure what to try next. At the same time, her mother has just been diagnosed with late stage lung cancer and she had a very bad reaction to her first chemotherapy treatment. Again, it is not clear to the physicians what to try next.
Tom and his family. He is suffering from deep depression and a severe anxiety disorder around issues from seventeen years ago for which he cannot find forgiveness. He is really anguished and obsessed by these matters and have also developed a severe sleeping disorder.
Prayers for John and Jean, moving to South Dakota and searching for jobs there. Deo gratias, they sold their house and SUV.
Prayers for Carol's husband, still seeking work.
Continuing prayers for Ann, starting physical therapy soon and suffering a lot from her casts.
Joel, who checked into a mental institution, his wife Angie, their family, friends and all who have been spiritually impacted while trying to help with their situation.
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
February 13, June 14, October 14
Chapter 11: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays
the hour of rising for the Night Office should be earlier.
In that Office let the measure already prescribed be kept,
namely the singing of six Psalms and a verse.
Then let all be seated on the benches in their proper order
while the lessons and their responsories are read from the book,
as we said above.
These shall be four in number,
with the chanter saying the "Glory be to the Father"
in the fourth responsory only,
and all rising reverently as soon as he begins it.
After these lessons
let six more Psalms with antiphons follow in order, as before,
and a verse;
and then let four more lessons be read with their responsories
in the same way as the former.
After these let there be three canticles
from the book of the Prophets,
as the Abbot shall appoint,
and let these canticles be chanted with "Alleluia."
Then when the verse has been said
and the Abbot has given the blessing,
let four more lessons be read,
from the New Testament,
in the manner prescribed above.
After the fourth responsory
let the Abbot begin the hymn "We praise You, O God."
When this is finished
the Abbot shall read the lesson from the book of the Gospels,
while all stand in reverence and awe.
At the end let all answer "Amen,"
and let the Abbot proceed at once
to the hymn "To You be praise."
After the blessing has been given,
let them begin the Morning Office.
This order for the Night Office on Sunday
shall be observed the year around,
both summer and winter;
unless it should happen (which God forbid)
that the brethren be late in rising,
in which case the lessons or the responsories
will have to be shortened somewhat.
Let every precaution be taken, however,
against such an occurrence;
but if it does happen,
then the one through whose neglect it has come about
should make due satisfaction to God in the oratory.
The idea of Vigils has very ancient Christian roots: watching all
night in prayer, particularly before Sunday, in anticipation of the
Second Coming (that they be found waiting, with lamps trimmed,) and
from the tradition that Jesus rose from the dead at dawn. The
connections of light/darkness and Son/sun are rich. Anyone who has
ever done an all-night Vigil can tell you it is a memorable
experience. They are frequently done, even in our own day, on Mount
Athos, lasting literally all night and including the chanting of the
With all this, it's no surprise that St. Benedict adds some extra
high church length to Vigils of Sunday. He still, however, makes a
lot of allowances for the monastics, even those who (God forbid!)
oversleep!! His Vigils are long, but they are quite pointedly NOT all
night! Doing an all night vigil for Sunday and every big feast would
do in a community of farmers in short order.
Many people who cut their teeth on pre-1964 Merton works, like "The
Silent Life" or "The Waters of Siloe", might think that the
Benedictines were a rather mitigated lot and the Cistercians were the
only ones who REALLY got the Holy Rule right. Well, yes and no... We
ARE a mitigated lot, we started out that way and have continued on
that middle road. St. Benedict designed his Rule as an adaptation and
yes, mitigation, of Egyptian monastic life, suitable for European
types. And no, the Cistercians are not at all necessarily the ones
who "got it right," as their own adaptations after 1964 clearly
Our long history is one of decline and repeated reform. The reforms,
understandably enough have always been aimed at sweeping away
mitigations and laxity. Predictably, they have often swept away a
good deal of moderation in the bargain, as well! Also, predictably,
the reforms themselves decay and have to be reformed: why do you
think there are Common Observance Cistercians and Trappists- two
Merton, like any of us, changed and grew. In his later years,
questions of observance and mitigation were at least less prominent
and sometimes totally absent. Right now it is probable that BOTH
Benedictines and Cistercians are living in their most relaxed and
mitigated conditions ever. That's not all bad. History might tell us
some of it will need tinkering, tightening up, but God will send the
men and women to do that in His time.
Rather than adopt an attitude of ALL-NIGHT, ALL the time,
get-every-boot-camp-in-toughest--shape and so forth, why not bask a
bit in the fact that we were born mitigated monastics and are meant to be so?
Nothing wrong with that, so long as we don't carry it too far. In the 19th
century, Russian Orthodox Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov said that the monks
of the latter days would NOT be doing many of the great works of old, but
that the peculiar conditions of the world in which they had to live would
balance things out. The modern and post-modern monastic faces many new obstacles
of which the Fathers and Mothers of old could have at best only dimly imagined.
When I first read Merton, he had some growing ahead of him and I was
14...didn't make for a very complete grasp on my part! Now, instead
of scorning relaxed observance in horror, I welcome it. Both Merton
and I learned something on different schedules: God gives certain
monasteries their particular observances because they are the only
place in the world some people could ever become monks. And this is
as true of relaxed observance as it is of strict!
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- I have no idea why this didn't go through yesterday. Catching up. BJL+PAXPrayers for the grace-filled success of our Oblate Day and our Sisters' Monastic Experience weekend at Petersham and for all participating.Urgent prayers needed for Brian's brother-in-law, Paul. He is a diabetic, and now has been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. It is stage 3, and a biopsy this coming Tuesday will check to see if he is stage 4. He will be starting chemo & radiation. His wife is devastated. Brian has known Paul since they were very young, loves him like a brother and is crushed. Please pray for Paul, his wife, Brian and all their family and friends.Deo gratias, the twin's fluid build up is gone.
Prayer for Brian T.,( another Brian,) who is being viciously harrassed.
Prayers for JS, discernment and assistance in making an important life decision.
Prayers for Beverly, special intention plus dicernment regarding another of perplexing issues..
Deo gratias for all prayers and graces of the past.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,