Holy Rule for July 19
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Lena, 13, for her family and all who mourn her.
Prayers of thanksgiving and Deo gratias for Dave, his oral surgery went well.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who taake care of them:
T.J., his wife Angie and infant son Tommy. He is 27 and has a rare infection. He has been close to death for a couple weeks. Prayers that he will live and be able to raise his son and for Angie to stay with T.J. in the ICU and not have to go back to work.
Theona. She's in her 80s and has been living on
her own. She's had some pretty bad falls lately and had to be hospitalized
after spending the night on the floor. She's having a tough time walking,
sitting, etc. Prayers that her niece and nephew will be able to find a nice
assisted living facility for her and that she's peacefully agree to go.
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.
NOTE: Looking at this a few years after I wrote it, I have more pity on Br. X.,
who features in the end of this reflection. I toned down what I said a bit. I
cannot read minds or souls: no one can. Only God knows what motivated Br. X,
though I thought I did when I was younger. That he upset a lot of people in
undeniable, why or how, or the root of his problem is a matter beyond any of us.
It would a terrible wasted opportunity not to briefly mention alcoholism
and other twelve step programs with this reading. So many in ALL walks of
life, our own Benedictine families included, suffer from addictions. May
all who abstain because they must offer the hardships of that road to recovery
for all those who suffer still. May we all remember that addiction is an
illness, not a moral scourge to whip people who suffer from it.
"Above all...abstain from murmuring." The murmuring here (and
everywhere it is mentioned in the Holy Rule,) is mean-spirited
griping about people or conditions. Never for an instant think that
Benedictine standards require one to be blind to real problems.
Even Abbots can be removed and have been. The process is neither simple
nor a great deal of fun, but it has been done. Real evils ought to be
addressed and usually are.
It's hard to write about this, because a certain unwritten law (well,
written in the hearts of monastics!) governs what is and isn't
murmuring. It's an intuitive sort of principle that one learns by
living among and observing other monastics.
There are healthy levels of opposition and resistance in a
healthy community, but their boundaries must not be violated. In
fact, any superior or community which mercilessly destroys ALL
disagreement or opposition is in serious danger. Part of community's
efficacy is that vastly different people live together in peace.
Maybe peace is the key to assessing a lot of murmuring. The worst
murumuring monk I ever knew- now dead some years- had a life of nearly
non-stop murmuring and he seemed to report such things with an eye
to harm. I once heard Bro. Patrick refer to this guy as "diabolical" and
that was not an adjective he used lightly.
Virtually nothing and no one measured up to Br. X's standards.
He was awful to live with and I feared him when I was a novice. But
there is the catch: he WAS awful to live with, even for himself. He
perhaps was filled with anger and pain and sought to make the
world around him match. What a convoluted mess!
Listen up, m'dears, I cannot know what another's pain is or how they
should seek help for it, but I do know that the Benedictine way is
NOT to pass that on and not to stand idly by and watch another do so.
Horrible to say, it took me years to get over Br. X's treatment of me. When
I came here it took me years to learn that I no longer had to cover
my flanks or look over my shoulder: we have no one that mean, nor
would we accept someone who was.
Poor Br. X, I pray for his tortured soul. Nearly 30 years later, I still
recall him with a shudder. However, it was not his fault alone. There was
an Abbot who listened, there were monks who did, too. A united refusal
to listen to such poison might have helped him, or it might have actually
driven him out, but in fact that did not happen. We all bear a two-sided
obligation to mean murmuring: don't start it, and don't listen to it. Venom
doesn't have any effect if it doesn't get in the bloodstream. See to it that you
never help it on it's way.
Love and prayers,
[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,