Holy Rule for Dec. 11
Prayers for Kristian, on his 22nd birthday, and for Joy and Dick, his parents, and all their family.
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Linda, a much respected High School teacher, who had a stroke while she was teaching. She is in hospital at the moment. Also for her students who are understandably upset. Prayers, too, for all her loved ones and all those taking care of her.
Lord, help us all as
You know and will. Helps us believe and know that You take care of us. God's
will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so
April 11, August 11, December 11
Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters
When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
let her not be granted an easy entrance;
but, as the Apostle says,
"Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
and if it is seen after four or five days
that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
and the difficulty of admission,
and that she persists in her petition,
then let entrance be granted her,
and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.
After that let her live in the novitiate,
where the novices study, eat and sleep.
A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
to watch over them with the utmost care.
Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
and whether she is zealous
for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
by which the journey to God is made.
If she promises stability and perseverance,
then at the end of two months
let this rule be read through to her,
and let her be addressed thus:
"Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
If you can observe it, enter;
if you cannot, you are free to depart."
If she still stands firm,
let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
and again tested in all patience.
And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
that she may know on what she is entering.
And if she still remains firm,
after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.
Then, having deliberated with herself,
if she promises to keep it in its entirety
and to observe everything that is commanded,
let her be received into the community.
But let her understand that,
according to the law of the Rule,
from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
which she was free to refuse or to accept
during that prolonged deliberation.
The Holy Rule is an awesome document about 1,500 years old. Since it
is always both these things, it is helpful to look at both past and present
in reading it. In St. Benedict's time, and for many centuries after him,
numerous less than lofty social reasons obtained for joining a
monastery. This was, alas, as true for the nobility and it was for
Got an unmarriageable noble daughter? Ship her off to join the "unclaimed
treasures" abbey, if they won't take her, found and fund of your own.
Got a younger son with no inheritance or title, not the sharpest
knife in the drawer, either? Sounds like a vocation to the Church to
me... Dowager queen or ex-wife a governmental problem? Have I got a
convent for YOU!
For the lower socioeconomic groups, it was often flat out social
climbing to join the monastery. You not only
came out well-dressed and well-fed, but you often got educated in the
bargain, too. If one was not born noble, or if one was less than
wonderful at warfare, the Church was the ONLY way to climb to power.
History has removed or severely limited many of these shoddy reasons
for joining. Hence, it is not always wise to play hard to get with
the reasons for same out of the way. I have known communities who
played too hard to get for too long and now get nothing at all.
Whooops! Poetic justice there! Maybe you should have just stuck to
not sleeping with knives at your side when you wanted to get literal
about the Holy Rule!
Before the worst of the vocations crunch came, there was a terrible
myth afloat in the late 60's and early 70's: "the perfect vocation."
Holding out for these ephemeral dreams has seriously harmed more than
one house. Just as women were learning to debunk the Cinderella myth,
many houses fell prey to the foolish notion that Prince or Princess
Charming really WOULD arrive on a charger one day.
It's balance again, always, always balance. This is
true not only of monasteries, but of single Oblates seeking a mate
and of any Oblate seeking to fill a job slot or assign a task to a
child. The apparently "perfect" one may not always be the best bet!
Balance, look at the person, the REAL person,
not the "perfect" one you desire so much that you see an illusion.
Mindfulness, here! Really, really, look at the real, strive to see it
well and then act accordingly. Jesus, after all, IS the Truth.
Ask any employer, many a plodder who was given a chance and knows it
will try harder and actually perform much better than the "dream" who
arrived with all ducks neatly in a row. In any situation in life, it
is crucially important to remember that carved-in-stone standards are
never subjective and people ALWAYS are. Thus, a little flexibility is
going to be required unless you are totally content with never
God is in charge of
these things, but God is terribly polite. Get in His way and He will
usually leave you to your own devices, since they can be the most
effective teachers! Be too picky or not picky enough and you will
miss whatever treasure He has for you. Don't take that risk!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- +PAXPlease continue prays for the recovery of our good Brother Jerome.
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 14, June 15, October 15
Chapter 12: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said
The Morning Office on Sunday shall begin with Psalm 66
recited straight through without an antiphon.
After that let Psalm 50 be said with "Alleluia,"
then Psalms 117 and 62,
the Canticle of Blessing (Benedicite) and the Psalms of praise (Ps.
then a lesson from the Apocalypse to be recited by heart,
the responsory, the verse,
the canticle from the Gospel book,
the litany and so the end.
Ever notice how a loving parent makes allowances so the kids WON'T
slip up or be discouraged? Good teachers do the same thing. Some
things are made so deliberately easy that all of the students can
generally make it through the hoop!
St. Benedict does this with both morning Offices, beginning Vigils
and Lauds with 2 psalms that are said every day. He even stresses
that, at Lauds, the 66th Psalm is to be said slowly, so that the
monastics may have time to gather.
Those two Offices are the time people are most likely to be running
late, either because they had to bound out of bed at the last minute,
or because the "necessities of nature" break between Vigils and Lauds
delayed them unexpectedly. It is worth noting that only with these
two Offices, when tardiness can so easily occur, does the Holy Rule
make such allowance. For a further bit of trivia, these four Psalms
are repeated every day: one could miss them several times in a week
and still have said all 150 Psalms in that week.
Sometimes people (including, alas, ourselves!) can make unrealistic
conditions and demand that others meet them. The concept of failure
is built into those demands. We fence people about with our own
standards that they could not possibly meet, then condemn them for
failing to meet them! What a sad and tragic game.
Take a self-inventory and check to see if there is anyone you dislike so
intensely that they cannot be right, no matter what they do. If there are any
such folks, it's time for you to change, not them! I recall, alas, one pastor
who annoyed me so much that even when he used incense (something I ordinarily
love,) I carped to myself that he didn't do it right. With me, he just could NOT
win. Sigh... When things get that bad, it's ourselves who need the overhaul,
not the presumed "offender."
St. Benedict, by his example, teaches us to be the exact opposite. He
shows us that we should be gentle and loving, that we should not be
about setting burdens on others that are guaranteed to make them fail
or quit or be discouraged. If we have received such kindness, we
should pass it on!
Love and prayers,