Holy Rule for Aug. 31
Prayrs for the eternal rest of Cathy and for all her family and all who mourn her.
Prayers for a veterinarian studying hard for her very tough 3 day state board exam in animal pathology.
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Dick, ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease and recovering from spinal surgery, prayers for Joy, his wife, and all their family, too. Deo gratias that his surgery went so well, too.
Cathy, mental illness.
Sr. Mary Francesca and her Dad, who seems to be very close to death. Sister has gone home to be with him.
Both my parents are long deceased, but today would have been their
68th wedding anniversary, so prayers, please, for Jerome and Louise, who first
gave me some of what I am able to pass on to others, who also first
took me to St. Leo Abbey. That opened a lifelong love of both St.
Leo and Benedictinism for me. How much I owe them! For their eternal rest and Deo gratias!
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
May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
I used to love to teach 8th graders. At the top of a kindergarten
through 8th grade school, they thought they had REALLY arrived, they
were very pleased with themselves! My 8th graders knew that I loved
them, so I could afford to tease them a bit. I used to narrow my
into a fake menacing gaze and say: "Ah, now you're the top, but next
year? Next year you will be FRESHMEN! The lowest of the low! Just
wait till high school." And they would laugh, secure in the fact
that I MUST be joking....
Well, folks, the beauty of this last chapter is that is tells us we
are ALL eighth graders, if even that. We'd do well to take St.
Benedict seriously on this one, but I'll bet he smiled with the same
affection I used to show to my kids. Three times a year we read the
Holy Rule entirely and three times a year he lovingly shakes us
awake to the reality that we will for all of our lives, always be
freshmen next year!
That's the Benedictine surprise that's wrapped in conversion of
manners: we never "arrive", we're not so hot as we thought ourselves
to be, we are just barely ready for the next step.
This is VERY different from the self-loathing we spoke about
yesterday with the bitter zeal. This is the true self-knowledge, the
smiling, even shrugging acceptance of the fact that we are just on
the way, nothing special there!
How great must our God be! I have never known anyone who kept all of
the Holy Rule perfectly, but I have known many that I thought were
great saints, very observant monastics. St. Benedict is clearly
telling us that even the best of us are but observing
this minimum Rule.
God is so vast and we are always taking the tumbling
first steps of toddlers towards Him, but He is always holding on and
beaming with the pride an love of a parent guiding those steps. Our
Holy Rule is filled with awesome things, yet it is only
the "rudiments" of the spiritual life!
Eighth graders, eighth graders all, but ah, what a high school
Love and prayers,
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PLEASE NOTE THAT I WILL BE AWAY FROM OCT. 6-14. ON THOSE DAYS, PLEASE SEND PRAYER REQUESTS TO MICHAEL LOPICCOLO. If you are on his list or my Holy Rule list, you can just reply to the Holy Rule post, otherwise, send them to carmelitanum@...
Bishop Rawsthorne, for whom we prayed as a member of the African Synod, is staying at the Venerable English College in Rome, where one of our readers, Sr. Mary Joseph, OSB, works. She told him that he was on our list for prayers and he was delighted and asked that thanks be extended to all. Small world! Continued prayers for him and the Synod, please.
Prayers for all Carthusians on the feast of St. Bruno, their founder. They spend their lives praying for the world, for all of us, let us return the favor.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the folloiwng, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Deo gratias, for Maggi, free of cancer, now prayers that the lung damage from chemo and radiation may be repaired.
Heather, about to have tests done on her heart, having a lot of problems with chest and neck pain. Please pray this turns out to be nothing serious.
Continued prayers for Cheryl and all evacuated by the wildfire in California.
Cindy who is being operated on today for pancreatic cancer.
Kelia, in the hospital with abdominal pain and a high white cell count.
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 5, June 6, October 6
Chapter 7: On Humility
The eighth degree of humility
is that a monk do nothing except what is commended
by the common Rule of the monastery
and the example of the elders.
Well, this one looks deceptively simple enough. Just try it! I speak
as one who has frequently failed it and who sometimes* fails it
still. [* I only fail it on special occasions: Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday.... you get the picture.] This step of humility,
by the way, will translate very easily into family life, the
neighborhood, or the workplace.
The goal here is not just external uniformity so much as internal
detachment. We are deeply attached to the things we do. Demanding to
do things our own way is not humble. When vocation observers come to the
monastery, for the monks or the nuns, I often see little quirks of
external piety in church and think: "Well, that'll have to go..."
One cannot profitably go through monastic formation cherishing the
notion that one has got it right and one's elders have it wrong. You
may even be right, or the matter may be completely neutral. (The
term "optional" comes to mind, but that was NOT used to express
neutrality!) That's not the issue here. Detachment and humility are.
When we singularize ourselves without real moral imperative, the
message given to the whole community is "I know better." That this is
not warmly received in a junior or newcomer should come as no
surprise. A monastic family is like any spouse: you had better not
marry what you hope to change them into, but only what they ARE. If
we fail this, we change "Thy will be done" into "MY will be done!"
and we do so with sorry results.
No spouse is perfect, neither is any family, monastery or job, but if
you expect to change them right off the bat, you're doomed to woe. In
monastery and marriage and workplace, the only person you can REALLY
change is yourself and the sooner you get around to doing that, the
better for all concerned.
The sad thing (and I am guilty here!) is that sometimes these things
we do on our own have nothing to do with piety at all. They are,
pure and simple, revolt, passive aggression, small, though very
public ways of expressing our scorn for this or that concept or
person. Having lived in the Church of the 60's and 70's, I picked up
the idea of refusal as a kind of non-violent demonstration. Not quite
as laudable as my youthful self may have thought!
I also must say that, in those less-than-halcyon days, I picked it up
from my monastic seniors, just not always the best seniors! I still
do it at times, and I still wrestle with paring those times down day
by day. The hardest humility and obedience are to things we truly
think are dumb and do not matter. The difficulty alone must mean
there is great potential for growth there.
An interesting aside here. The dissenter often thinks she is a grand
and eloquent witness for justice and truth. The stubborn monk thinks
he has scored a real victory for integrity and correctness. In fact,
those who live with them often think they're just silly and pathetically
off the mark. Of the two impressions, this last is closer to truth!
It is also interesting to note (again, from sorry personal experience,)
that the rebel often looks at other rebels (with whom he does not agree,
so they are, of course, WRONG...) as silly. Wow! If one can be so right
about those other rebels, how come the other monastics aren't right about
Love and prayers,
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