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Holy Rule for July 31

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Olivia, a three year old girl recently diagnosed with inoperable bone cancer. She is
    Message 1 of 209 , Jul 30, 2009
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Olivia, a three year old girl recently diagnosed with inoperable bone cancer. She is undergoing chemo and radiotherapy, and for all her family and all who take care of her.

      Huge Deo gratias for Francesca, who got a teaching job in spite of very tough odds.

      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 31, July 31, November 30

      Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent

      Although the life of a monk
      ought to have about it at all times
      the character of a Lenten observance,
      yet since few have the virtue for that,
      we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
      the brethren keep their lives most pure
      and at the same time wash away during these holy days
      all the negligences of other times.
      And this will be worthily done
      if we restrain ourselves from all vices
      and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
      to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

      During these days, therefore,
      let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
      as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
      Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
      "with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
      something above the measure required of him.
      From his body, that is
      he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
      and with the joy of spiritual desire
      he may look forward to holy Easter.

      Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
      what it is that he wants to offer,
      and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
      For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
      will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
      and will merit no reward.
      Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.

      REFLECTION

      Because we read St. Benedict's 1500 year old Holy Rule with modern
      eyes, it often seems harsh. To balance our perspective, we need to
      see the radical nature of the Rule when written. Face it, folks, this
      was most definitely a gentler Rule for European wannabes who could
      never hack it in the Egyptian desert in their wildest dreams. His
      introductory paragraph points out his plan of adaptation: "...since
      few have the virtue for that..." Our founder was most certainly
      writing for the European also-rans of monasticism and he knew it.
      Keeping that uppermost in our minds can be informatively humbling.

      The Desert Fathers were not interested in mitigation in the
      slightest. The early message of the desert was: "Get Lent to the max
      or get lost!" They went FAR beyond Lenten and they did it all year,
      without a break. Any who couldn't reach that ideal were sent away as
      unsuited, not called. If we look carefully at this, perhaps we can
      better see that, from the outset, St. Benedict's fatherly heart was
      with the underdogs, the also rans, the strays and losers that others
      could not be bothered with. He must have felt at some point that
      there HAD to be a way for the spiritually challenged to become
      monastics. A millennium and a half later, we are still benefiting
      from his attempts.

      St. Aelred of Rievaulx, contemporary of St. Bernard in the early days
      of the Cistercian reform, wrote of his monastery: "...all men found room
      for themselves here, like fish in the breadth of the sea, the joyous,
      spacious peace of divine love. That house is not to be accounted a place of
      religion which has been too proud to bear with the weak." As an early
      Cistercian, he was hardly the biggest fan of mitigated observance, but
      he had very clear eyes for divine love and mercy!

      Hence, for us Benedictines, when the Evil One tempts us with his lies
      like: "You could never do that! You could never be THAT holy!" our
      response must be "Yeah, so what? Your point is...???" We have no clue
      of how holy we can be. God alone knows that and God alone will lead
      us and show us in ways we are quite unlikely to ever understand.
      Whenever the demon of discouragement tells us we are far beneath this
      Rule for beginners, we must shrug indifferently and move on, briefly
      impressed for once with the Father of Lies' firm grasp on the obvious.

      Of *COURSE* we are beneath this Rule, beneath any of the earlier
      ones. Duh?!? We're Benedictines. Our Order was founded for people
      like us. That should never, ever be a cause to stop trying, to give
      up or quit. On the contrary, that fact should be a heartening
      confirmation that we are EXACTLY where we belong, in the best
      possible remedial education program for slow learners like us, right
      where God wants us.

      Like a mother to a crying child, devoid of hope, who moans "But I
      CAN'T, I just can't!" St. Benedict is softly saying, "Well, then
      just do what you can and that will be OK." Get the picture? Great!

      Now go out and do what you can today... Don't be surprised if
      you find that God is increasing, sometimes imperceptibly, that "what
      you can" little by little to heights of great holiness, which we will
      achieve all but unawares and only with His help. Someday, we really
      SHALL "run in the way...with hearts enlarged."

      Love and prayers,

      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      I have no idea why this didn t go through yesterday. Catching up. BJL +PAX Prayers for the grace-filled success of our Oblate Day and our Sisters Monastic
      Message 209 of 209 , Mar 14
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        I have no idea why this didn't go through yesterday. Catching up. BJL
         
        +PAX
        Prayers 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.

        REFLECTION

        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
        to be.

        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA
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