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Holy Rule for Jan. 1

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of the following and for all their loved ones and all who mourn them: Fr. Edward, oblate of Alton Abbey, UK, who
    Message 1 of 20 , Dec 31, 2009
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      Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of the following and for all their loved ones and all who mourn them:

      Fr. Edward, oblate of Alton Abbey, UK, who went to God Dec. 30.

      Gene, Mara's Mom for whom we prayed, she has gone to God. Prayers, too, for Mara and Josh, Susie and Paul and all her family.

      Prayers, too, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

      Deo gratias, the elderly woman with leukemia we prayed for a while back has required no further transfusions, her blood levels have been perfect.

      Dot, in her 80's, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease and now in the hospital with pneumonia, very respiratorially compromised.

      Vic, diagnosed with lung cancer and beginning chemo and radiation.

      Richard's sister-in-law, in the last stages of cancer and very angry. Prayers for her happy death and that her anger gives way to serene acceptance of the will of God. For those so inclined, prayers to St. Benedict for her happy death.

      Frank, who is very seriously ill.

      Sergio, just diagnosed with lung cancer and for all his family, especially his daughter, Natalie.

      Deo gratias, Arik for whom we prayed had a very difficult surgery to correct his brain aneurysm, but it went well. Fluid build up at the site, however, made him return to surgery for a tube to drain the fluid, so he is not out of the woods, continued prayers, please. Prayers, too, that he and his wife practice their faith much better.

      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

      January 1, May 2, September 1

      Prologue

      L I S T E N carefully, my child,
      to your master's precepts,
      and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).
      Receive willingly and carry out effectively
      your loving father's advice,
      that by the labor of obedience
      you may return to Him
      from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.

      To you, therefore, my words are now addressed,
      whoever you may be,
      who are renouncing your own will
      to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King,
      and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

      And first of all,
      whatever good work you begin to do,
      beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it,
      that He who has now deigned to count us among His children
      may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds.
      For we must always so serve Him
      with the good things He has given us,
      that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children,
      nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions,
      deliver us to everlasting punishment
      as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory.

      REFLECTION

      The Prologue is the most tender and loving of beginnings. Always,
      always, always keep this loving Father that writes here in mind as you
      read the rest of the Holy Rule. This and the epilogue are the key to
      it all, and the key to the saintly personality of our holy Father
      Benedict.

      The Holy Rule can seem so lofty that it sometimes turns people away.
      They think: "This is for those really holy people, not for me. I'll
      bet it's easy for saints like them, but I couldn't even dream of
      trying." Wrong on both counts and St. Benedict makes that clear. We
      return "by the labor of obedience" and if we are not one of those who
      has "to do battle" against our own will, he makes it abundantly
      certain that he is not talking to us.

      If, in fact, there is anyone for whom the Rule is a cinch, and I
      doubt that very much, then it was not written for them. It was
      written for us who struggle, for us for whom it is NOT easy, to help
      us in a battle that sometimes wears us out.

      St. Benedict also makes his point that our distance from God is due
      to our "sloth of disobedience." Yet he doesn't tell the slothful to
      quit because they are worthless, he tells them they are the very ones
      for whom he is writing this Rule! This is the Rule for the fallen and
      beginners, this is an entry level position which can advance to great
      sanctity, but it *IS* an entry level position!

      This is the door and gate for all. This is most decidedly NOT a Rule
      just for monks and nuns in monasteries. Were that so, no provision
      for Oblates would ever have been made. No, this is a Rule for all who
      wish to try to become better and because they have made that
      intention, God "has deigned to count us among His children." There is
      no more us-and-them here. Just by beginning, we become part of the
      whole.

      The Holy Rule is quite direct about stating that this time, it is not about
      the perfect ones: the center of its focus is the rest of us! Now there's a
      refreshingly upside down and all too rare world view!

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










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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers for all of us for a blessed and grace-filled 2010. Continued prayers for Arik, who was again combative with his nurses and now is sedated for 24
      Message 2 of 20 , Jan 1, 2010
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        Prayers for all of us for a blessed and grace-filled 2010.

        Continued prayers for Arik, who was again combative with his nurses and now is sedated for 24 hours in hopes the fluid drains off his brain.

        Lord, help us 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

        January 2, May 3, September 2
        Prologue (continued)

        Let us arise, then, at last,
        for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
        "Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 18:11).
        Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
        let us hear with attentive ears
        the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
        "Today if you hear His voice,
        harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94:8).
        And again,
        "Whoever has ears to hear,
        hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).
        And what does He say?
        "Come, My children, listen to Me;
        I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps. 33:12).
        "Run while you have the light of life,
        lest the darkness of death overtake you" (John 12:35).

        REFLECTION

        Check out the similarities of this section, at the beginning of the
        Holy Rule, and the readings of early Lent, which stress that "now is
        the acceptable time." It brings to mind St. Benedict's later chapter
        which says that the monastic life ought always to have some semblance
        of Lent.

        That perpetual Lent chapter is the source of a lot of grumbling about
        austerity from one camp and cheering about it from another. Both may
        have missed a salient point. Perhaps the greatest element of
        perpetual Lent has less to do with austerity- even the monastic fast
        did not last all year. What IS perpetually in style is wakefulness
        and self-examination.

        Monastic life withers in either smugness or a rut. What St. Benedict
        wants us to do is always to try and stay at that serious moment of
        taking inventory that many of us feel at Lent's beginning. We need to
        always be checking what needs to be cleaned up and we need to be
        prepared, even a bit eager, to start working on it.

        This is why a daily examination of conscience is so necessary.
        Compline, the traditional liturgical place for such examens, is a
        very apt place for same. As we prepare for sleep, which prefigures
        death, we prepare also for death, by examining our faults and asking
        forgiveness.

        The Holy Rule, like Lent, is by no means the gateway to an easier
        life, but to a holier one. As we actually grow in holiness much of it
        will become easier, more natural to us. But until that time, it is a
        struggle and, in unconquered areas, it remains something of a
        struggle for all of our lives. What's hard about that struggle isn't
        fasting or penance, but changing ourselves. Austere practices are
        just a means to that end, not ends in themselves.

        The whole idea of Lent and the Holy Rule is lasting change for the
        better. Lent is a seasonal construct to get us to begin anew, the
        Holy Rule says that beginning anew must be a daily thing. Lent is an
        attempt to get us to do for forty days what we ought to have been
        doing all year. The Holy Rule is a way to do what we ought to do all
        year, every day.

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


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      • Br. Jerome Leo
        +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physial health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Ali, arthritis in
        Message 3 of 20 , Jan 2, 2010
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          +PAX

          Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physial health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

          Ali, arthritis in her right elbow.

          Barbara, breathing difficulties and sinus issues.

          Fr. David, hospitalized and not at all well- we have prayed for him in the past.

          Dot, for whom we prayed now has very highj blood pressure on top of her pneumonia and must remain in the hospital longer. Continued prayers, please.

          Matthew, 3 years old, in the hospital for undetermined abdominal pain... and for his mother and entire family... for healing, comfort, and ease of pain.

          Molly and her human family... Molly their cat is 16 years old and in critical condition tonight.

          D., making beginning steps to re-open her heat to God and hopefully to return to the practice of her Faith.

          Pat, stage four colon cancer, possibly operable now (Deo gratias) after treatment, continued prayers

          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

          January 3, May 4, September 3
          Prologue

          And the Lord, seeking his laborer
          in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
          says again,
          "Who is the one who will have life,
          and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
          And if, hearing Him, you answer,
          "I am the one,"
          God says to you,
          "If you will have true and everlasting life,
          keep your tongue from evil
          and your lips that they speak no guile.
          Turn away from evil and do good;
          seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
          And when you have done these things,
          My eyes shall be upon you
          and My ears open to your prayers;
          and before you call upon Me,
          I will say to you,
          'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).

          What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
          than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
          Behold, in His loving kindness
          the Lord shows us the way of life.

          REFLECTION

          This is perhaps my all-time favorite reading from the Holy Rule. Then
          gentle, loving tenderness of both the Divine Merciful Christ and our
          holy Father Benedict are here in abundance. One is tempted to merely
          bask in the warmth, rather than write, but I will try to write!

          Lest any of us (which, as the Holy Rule would say, God forbid,) tend
          to pride at undertaking the monastic way, this one deflates that
          balloon in a hurry. Christ seeks US. What mercy! Our very being is
          nothing but an act of His love and mercy, all that we have is His
          love and His mercy, yet, on top of all that, He seeks US! We're
          talking God here, not some other created being. We're talking the
          Alpha and Omega, end all and be all, the First Cause, you name it.
          The very force of life and light and truth and love and mercy in the
          cosmos, before all time, names us, knows us and calls us.

          He ALREADY calls us His laborers, even before we answer. He knows
          intimately and well, from personal experience, the fouled up chaotic
          mess in which we lived. He has lived in it, too. he tenderly calls us
          to "true and everlasting life" and assures us that He knows the way.
          In fact, He *IS* the Way!

          I can gush a bit writing about the Prologue, so indulge me here as I
          do so. Beloveds, for so you are to me, our fractured hearts and sin-
          veiled eyes just cannot see the way, nor can we name the hurts or
          their cures well. God and God alone can pierce that darkness and He
          offers to do so before we even ask. This is awesome grace, this is
          enough for a lifetime's meditation on humility. Hard things to come
          in the struggle are real, but their harshness is in some way
          illusory: "Behold, in His loving-kindness, the Lord shows us the way
          of life."

          It is solely because of heaven and Christ for all eternity that every
          suffering, every cross can be diminished into absolute nothingness by
          the greatness of the reward. Yes, He shows us the way to life, but,
          as a wonderfully Dominican Doctor of the Church, St. Catherine of
          Siena, taught us: "All the way to Heaven *IS* Heaven, because He
          said: 'I am the Way.' "

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

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        • Br. Jerome Leo
          +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Colleen, job
          Message 4 of 20 , Jan 3, 2010
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            +PAX

            Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

            Colleen, job hunting.

            Vickie, who has had a couple of operations for stomach cancer and is having a scan and blood test on Wednesday to see how things are now.

            Stephen, estranged from the Church, that he find his way back.

            Kevin who is severely depressed and refusing help and for his brothers and sisters doing all they can but feeling helpless.

            Sabette who has moved into a residence for disabled persons where she can receive therapy and supervision of her medications.

            Jerome [another Jerome, not me...] who is considering retirement and the opportunity to live a true monastic life.

            Baby David, son of Chuck and Molly, a little over 2 years old, will be operated on Monday, January 4th, for a growth on his liver. He has already been operated on several times in his short life for Wilms tumor on his kidneys and has been undergoing intensive chemotherapy.

            Continued prayers for Dot, still in the hospital, and for her daughter, Joyce.

            Prayers for a family hunting for their estranged son and brother, Jimmy. May they be reunited.

            Mother Mary Elizabeth, on her feastday and for the eternal rest
            of Br. Aelred Seton, on one of his two feastdays. May St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
            intercede for us all.

            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

            January 4, May 5, September 4
            Prologue

            Having our loins girded, therefore,
            with faith and the performance of good works (Eph. 6:14),
            let us walk in His paths
            by the guidance of the Gospel,
            that we may deserve to see Him
            who has called us to His kingdom (1 Thess. 2:12).

            For if we wish to dwell in the tent of that kingdom,
            we must run to it by good deeds
            or we shall never reach it.

            But let us ask the Lord, with the Prophet,
            "Lord, who shall dwell in Your tent,
            or who shall rest upon Your holy mountain" (Ps. 14:1)?

            After this question,
            let us listen to the Lord
            as He answers and shows us the way to that tent, saying,
            "The one Who walks without stain and practices justice;
            who speaks truth from his heart;
            who has not used his tongue for deceit;
            who has done no evil to his neighbor;
            who has given no place to slander against his neighbor."

            This is the one who,
            under any temptation from the malicious devil,
            has brought him to naught (Ps. 14:4)
            by casting him and his temptation from the sight of his heart;
            and who has laid hold of his thoughts
            while they were still young
            and dashed them against Christ (Ps. 136:9).

            It is they who,
            fearing the Lord (Ps. 14:4),
            do not pride themselves on their good observance;
            but,
            convinced that the good which is in them
            cannot come from themselves and must be from the Lord,
            glorify the Lord's work in them (Ps. 14:4),
            using the words of the Prophet,
            "Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
            but to Your name give the glory" (Ps. 113, 2nd part:1).
            Thus also the Apostle Paul
            attributed nothing of the success of his preaching to himself,
            but said,
            "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
            And again he says,
            "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Cor. 10:17).

            REFLECTION

            Ever have that funny feeling of surprise that the world and time and
            life and events go resolutely on, even when you are stalled in
            heartbreak? It is a strange egocentricity that allows us to feel
            that. I remember clearly such a feeling when my father died. I was
            not quite eleven. My world was shattered, everything had stopped or
            changed or been put on hold.

            Child that I was, it stunned me slightly to notice from the car
            window on the way to the cemetery that it was just another sunny day
            for everyone else. People were working, shopping, going to school.
            The world WAS going on, nothing had changed for them. It made me feel
            strangely even more alone in my pain: he wasn't as important to the
            rest of the world as he was to me.

            We can still have these feelings as adults, but hopefully we are at
            least more used to them and less inclined to think the world really
            DOES stop when we think it should. Tough though that can still be,
            it is reality and reality is truth and truth, after all, is not
            only humility but also what Jesus called Himself.

            What does all this have to do with the Prologue? The same sort of
            really unfortunate egocentricity can let us think that we are the
            center of the known universe in other ways, can allow us to foolishly
            think that our gifts or the tiny packets of virtues we have stashed
            here and there are our own. No way, folks! It is grace, it is gift,
            ALL is gift, beginning with our very existence!

            Everything good, in every way is all from God, not us. We dare glory
            in nothing but Him, for we would be less than nothing without His
            grace acting in us. He is the Source that allows us to be good.

            If a city has clean, wondrous, spring water, no one in their right
            mind praises the pipes. No, one praises the purity of the Source. So
            it is with us, m'dears, pipes one and all, nothing more or less. God
            is the Source, God's mercy and love and grace and gift are the purest
            of waters. We are His conduits and we dare not glory, except in the
            Lord! "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give the glory!"

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







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          • Br. Jerome Leo
            +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Mary, and for John and Carol, her son and daughter-in-law and for all who mourn her. Prayers, please, for the
            Message 5 of 20 , Jan 4, 2010
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              +PAX

              Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Mary, and for John and Carol, her son and daughter-in-law and for all who mourn her.

              Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

              Al, job hunting.

              Stephen multiple issues, special intention, please.

              Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. Allis mercy and
              grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

              January 5, May 6, September 5
              Prologue (continued)

              Hence the Lord says in the Gospel,
              "Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them,
              I will liken to a wise person
              who built a house on rock.
              The floods came,
              the winds blew and beat against that house,
              and it did not fall,
              because it had been founded on rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).

              Having given us these assurances,
              the Lord is waiting every day
              for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions.
              And the days of this life are lengthened
              and a respite granted us for this very reason,
              that we may amend our evil ways.
              As the Apostle says,
              "Do you not know that God's patience is inviting you to repent" (Rom.
              2:4)?
              For the merciful Lord tells us,
              "I desire not the death of the sinner,
              but that the sinner should be converted and live" (Ezech. 33:11).

              REFLECTION

              People like me are very prone to regard repentance with the same
              eagerness that we ordinarily reserve for cleaning the
              refrigerator: "I'll get around to that..." Truth is, I rarely do.
              What happens instead is that one of our wonderful Oblates, Richard of
              Springfield (who gets this daily reflection,) comes for a weekend and
              cleans the icebox. Hallelujah! Saint Richard!! Thank you, Richard!
              Richard cleans like a dream and our world looks a lot better whenever
              he's been here!

              If you are not like me, and your icebox has ALWAYS been clean, is
              buffed up every week to shining glory and you carry a damp washcloth
              every time you open the fridge just in case, then fine, this portion
              was not written for you. However, it should be noted that even
              immaculate icebox types may have to check behind the icebox or take a
              look at the oven.... I mean, if you want to be REALLY perfect, you
              could move the fridge and wax the floor underneath- with paste wax
              and a buffer, of course!

              Get my point? This is surely written for most of us. Most of us have
              some sort of a grungy corner that we'll "get to tomorrow," if ever.
              St. Benedict is reminding us again that "Now is the acceptable
              time..." Orthodox St. Isaac of Syria said: "This life has been given to you
              for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits."

              Sadly, people like me hear in St. Isaac's words: "This life has been
              given to you for icebox cleaning..." Yeah, right! Oh boy, what a thrill!
              Such a gift! Just can't wait to get up each morning! And we shrug and walk
              away. Why? Because the typically monastic idea of repentance is very
              different from that of our modern Christianity.

              We tend to look at repentance as necessary in proportion to guilt.
              The early monastics saw it as necessary for everyone, period. We
              would almost chuckle at the idea of a virgin martyr of twelve in the
              Roman world repenting. "Of what?" we'd incredulously ask. The early
              monastic would see no problem there at all. Repentance, from a
              monastic and Benedictine view, is needful to for all because all are
              fallen, all are incapable of living the Christian life without God
              and grace. All of us, left to their own whims, would fall short of the
              monastic struggle.

              The repentance we speak of here is similar to that of Baptism, but
              not identical. Certainly one can be saved without entering the
              monastic way (or cleaning refrigerators, for that matter!) What St.
              Benedict is speaking of here is the special road of the monastic
              struggle. Plenty of saints, in fact most saints, were neither monks
              nor Benedictines. Big news there!

              What St. Benedict is saying is "OK, this is our approach. There are,
              of course, others, but if you want to use ours, you this is what you have
              to do." "Repent!" St. John the Baptist cried again and again in the desert,
              and somewhere along the way of that preaching, Jesus, the Lamb of God,
              stepped into the Jordan. Face it, folks, if He can answer the call to repent,
              anyone can! He had no need at all!

              What our repentance affirms is that we cannot become monastics with no
              trouble: our natures make that impossible. On our monastic way to
              God, many, many human things stand in our hearts and in our way.
              That's what we repent and shall always have to repent. Whenever our
              focus, our purity of heart is fragmented in any way, that's what we
              have to repent.

              Now, after writing this, you might safely assume that I am off to
              clean the refrigerator, but you would be wrong. I mean, after all,
              Richard IS visiting again soon and maybe he wouldn't mind starting
              the painting a little bit late... LOL! (Richard really does paint,
              though. Like a pro! Most of the new paint in the house is his work.)

              All joking aside, great thanks are due to many of our Oblates and
              guests, all of whom make ours a shared ministry of hospitality. This
              great team effort results in people being a lot more comfortable here! Say
              a prayer of thanks with me for all of them! All of them help us receive
              Christ at our door.

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


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            • Br. Jerome Leo
              +PAX Please pray for the eternal repose of Babs, for whom we prayed, who passed away a few day ago. Praise God she was seen by a Priest before she died! Deo
              Message 6 of 20 , Jan 5, 2010
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                +PAX

                Please pray for the eternal repose of Babs, for whom we prayed, who passed away a few day ago. Praise God she was seen by a Priest before she died! Deo gratias!

                Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                Fr. David, for whom we prayed was operated on for a tumor on his bowel, continued prayers, please.

                Patrick, a variety of issues, special intention.

                Jimmy, that his family from which he is estranged may find him.

                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

                January 6, May 7, September 6
                Prologue

                So we have asked the Lord
                who is to dwell in His tent,
                and we have heard His commands
                to anyone who would dwell there;
                it remains for us to fulfill those duties.

                Therefore we must prepare our hearts and our bodies
                to do battle under the holy obedience of His commands;
                and let us ask God
                that He be pleased to give us the help of His grace
                for anything which our nature finds hardly possible.
                And if we want to escape the pains of hell
                and attain life everlasting,
                then, while there is still time,
                while we are still in the body
                and are able to fulfill all these things
                by the light of this life,
                we must hasten to do now
                what will profit us for eternity.

                REFLECTION

                This is a shameless re-run on the Morning Offering, one of my all-
                time favorite things to write about! Everyone reading this is in
                every morning offering of mine and has been for a long, long time!

                The first section of the Prologue asked us to seek God's blessing
                before doing any work. Today we are asked to prepare our hearts and
                bodies for the struggles ahead and ask God for His help. Both of
                these precepts are quite nicely filled by making the Morning
                Offering. Now I know that is a Roman Catholic prayer, and I also know
                we have (thanks be to God!) many Oblates of other faiths among us.
                Bear with me, please. I think this has applications for everyone.

                The morning offering is considered rather passe in some Roman
                Catholic circles. One actually wonders why, in an age that loves
                computers with tons of memory, hard drives that do all the work for
                us, even more work than our own minds could dream of doing. I have
                12,000 names in a data base I built on royal genealogy, a favorite
                hobby. One click and a few seconds will tell me how any two of them
                are related, even up to mind-boggling relationships like eighteenth
                cousin three times removed. It will start at a point like that and
                then list all lesser relationships, until common ancestors are all
                depleted. No way I could EVER do that. The morning offering, however,
                makes computer ability look like shooting fish in a barrel.

                The morning offering is the perfect capstone, cornerstone and
                beginning for a great life of intercessory prayer. It unites the
                poverty of our own lives, prayers, works, joys and sufferings with
                those of Christ, with those of His Mystical Body. It plunges the
                finite smallness of our own actions into sea after sea of infinite
                grace and perfection and, wrapped in that awesome completeness,
                offers them to the Father in the perhaps most perfect personal gift
                we could ever hope for that day, short of martyrdom itself.

                Ever forget to pray during the day? The morning offering makes our
                very heartbeats and breathing prayers, means of grace for ourselves
                and for all. We have offered ALL our works, even the unconscious ones
                of our bodies to God, and we have offered them in union with the most
                perfect sacrifice of Jesus. With a gift tag like that, the Father is
                quite likely to be pleased, indeed. Each time we blink, or eat,
                suffer or rejoice, we link that to Christ on His Cross. None of us
                have enough bytes of memory to really do that. The morning
                offering is our "hard drive" it is the program that saves to disk and
                runs automatically.

                Our baptism into the Mystical Body gives us the right to plug into
                that infinite worth. It would be a shame if we missed the
                opportunity. Let me tell you, with complete sincerity, that all the
                works of my entire life couldn't save a flea from drowning in a
                raindrop. No way. Buried within the depths of Christ, however, their
                value becomes literally infinite.

                Ever feel bad that you forgot to pray for some one who asked, or only
                whispered a quick: "Lord, help her."? The morning offering makes our
                life and our prayer an infinite pie, one which can never be sliced
                too thin. Counting huge groups and individuals, I pray every single
                day for literally billions of people and not one of them is short-
                changed at all. That's the marvel of uniting our lives and heart
                daily to Christ. Every slice of the pie gets served on the plate of
                His infinity, every single one. Cloaked in the perfect mercy and
                offering of Jesus, every single act, even the keys I just struck and
                the mouse I just moved are wonderful prayers for all, for everyone
                throughout time. That's not shabby, folks!

                Ever wish that your heart prone to largesse had all the money in the
                world? How generous you would be! But, with the morning offering, you
                have daily more than that. Claim your infinite share and spread it
                around! Name people and groups, sure, but know that God has a memory
                that never quits. You can say: for all people in all time" and it
                WILL count! Heavens, I pray for all Oblates (among lots of other
                groups every day. Not only could I not name them, I don't even know
                them, nor is it possible for ANYONE to know them all throughout time.
                But God does, and it counts!) There is no one reading this for whom I
                have not prayed every single day, many by name, but it doesn't
                matter if I cannot name you all. God is my hard drive!
                The morning offering is a very neat method!

                Look, folks, it's a Roman Catholic prayer. I'll give you a version of
                it at the end of this post, but there are many others. I KNOW that
                some of our Oblates from other Churches may have to amend it a bit
                and that's OK, go for what God and your heart allows. I think,
                however, that all Christians could agree on at least these
                essentials. (Someone please correct me here, if I am wrong.) Offer
                all your prayers, works, joys and sufferings in union with those of
                Christ, for the intentions of Christ, for all the Church and its
                leaders, for all people throughout time. Say it any way your heart
                allows, but do at least this much and congratulations: you have just
                thrust your own prayers and works and joys and sufferings into the
                very heart of the Cosmos, into the whole of history itself. You now
                stand beside Christ in HIS perfect work in every age. WOOOOF!

                And, if today is your first morning offering, or your first in some
                time, remember to pray for all Benedictines on Tuesdays,
                St. Benedict's special day! Hey, remember to pray for us all EVERY day!
                We need it.

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

                MORNING OFFERING

                O my Jesus, I offer You this day my prayers, works, joys and
                suffering, for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart and Divine
                Mercy, in union with every sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world
                and with all the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of Your Mystical
                Body throughout time, in reparation for our sins and in thanksgiving
                for all Your benefits. I offer them for the Pope and his intentions,
                all Church leaders, and for the unity of all.

                (Now you can add your own intentions- don't be stingy here, you have
                infinity! I always end my own list with: for everyone and everything
                throughout time, created by Your hands, I offer You my life, in
                holocaust for these and for Your will for them.)

                End with: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto
                Yours. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in You.

                Many older Catholics may recall getting monthly leaflets for the Morning
                Offering at Church, maybe some Churches still have them, but they are
                nowhere near as available as they once were. This website puts the leaflets
                on line, along with a simple morning offering, lives of certain
                saints from the month and what the Pope's intentions for that month
                really are. (I have spent most of my life not knowing... Now I try to
                actually use them!)

                here's the URL. Enjoy!

                http://www.apostleship-prayer.org/


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              • Br. Jerome Leo
                +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Frank, for whom we prayed; he has died. Prayers, too, for his wife, Evie and for all who mourn him. Prayers for
                Message 7 of 20 , Jan 6, 2010
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                  Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Frank, for whom we prayed; he has died. Prayers, too, for his wife, Evie and for all who mourn him.

                  Prayers for the spiritual, mental and phsyical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                  Elaine, for whom we prayed when an ultrasound showed what looked like tumors on several organs. A CT scan failed to show the same, for which she is deeply relieved and grateful for all the prayers. Deo gratias!!

                  Janet, now in the hospital with sky high blood pressure and heart rate, and evidence of a small stroke, plus a UTI. She is responding well to treatment, and should soon be released, but will need patience to adjust to living with a different type of diet and having to take medication.

                  Susie asks prayers for a better relationship with a son who doesn't seem to care, acceptance for a less-than-perfect relationship and guidance as to how to carry this burden and how to progress.

                  Also Susie asks prayers for the eternal rest of a difficult mother-in-law who died recently and support for her son, Susie' husband, to whom she wasn't able to show love.

                  Prayers for Dot, having a terrible time accepting the death of her eldest son, and for his eternal rest.

                  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

                  January 7, May 8, September 7
                  Prologue (concluded)

                  And so we are going to establish
                  a school for the service of the Lord.
                  In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.
                  But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity
                  for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity,
                  do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation,
                  whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matt. 7:14).
                  For as we advance in the religious life and in faith,
                  our hearts expand
                  and we run the way of God's commandments
                  with unspeakable sweetness of love (Ps. 118:32).
                  Thus, never departing from His school,
                  but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching
                  until death,
                  we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
                  and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.

                  REFLECTION

                  Sadly, a certain cynicism has been woven into my life like a
                  repeating plaid. Happily, it has not grown worse with age, but has
                  been moderated (how Benedictine!) into a faintly acceptable level of
                  occasional curmudgeonhood. If my cynicism is now a rather muted
                  tartan background, it was not always so. I can clearly recall reading
                  the line about expanding hearts and running with unspeakable
                  sweetness of love twenty some years ago and thinking: "Yeah, right!
                  Real likely..."

                  Now that passage is my all-time favorite in the Holy Rule. I thought
                  twice before saying that, because there are so many things in the
                  Rule that I deeply love, but yeah, this one is the best loved for me.
                  Why? Because it is linked to love and, secondarily, because it alerts
                  us to the necessary hope that the monastic struggle DOES get easier
                  in time, in certain ways, even though it is never over until death.

                  "Our hearts expand..." they truly do. Mine has already been
                  wonderfully stretched and pulled and enlarged beyond my wildest
                  dreams, often with me kicking and screaming every inch of the way. I
                  have no doubt that it will grow bigger still, capable of holding
                  more, but I know I could not stand that now, it would be too much.
                  God works slowly, according to our individual needs. Better than
                  anyone, He knows that doing it all at once would reduce us to
                  shivering panic.

                  The biggest factor that I can see in God's work of heart renovation
                  for me has been intercessory prayer. When you renovate a building,
                  you have to tear down some walls, a dusty, ugly, painful mess. Ah,
                  but the light and air and space that one finds in those new areas
                  where walls had stood! In praying for God's people, I learned to love
                  them, more prayer equaled more love and so it spiraled upward and
                  spirals on!

                  The rain for my roots was that work in progress, the expansion of my
                  heart. It's not the same as other loves I have known and in no way as
                  graphic or immediate or intimate, but oh, it is deep. I am sure it is
                  not incompatible with married love, but God seemed to want it so for
                  me. True to form, I argued with Him for years about that.

                  Christ is the One I encounter in praying for His members, for
                  His Mystical Body. It is, after all, a very powerful reminder that Christ IS
                  His members, that we are all cells in His awesome Body.

                  When a novice in my twenties, I used to look at two real saints of
                  St. Leo Abbey, Brothers David Gormican and Raphael Daly, both now
                  gone to God. I am not even sure I thought it had become easier for
                  them at the end of their lives, I thought, with the mindlessness so
                  easy for me then, that they were just so old they didn't care
                  anymore. Wrong!

                  My dear friend Ann Chatlos was a FABULOUS cook and she had been at it
                  for years. One day I went to see her and we sat talking in her
                  kitchen, she was fiddling around, nothing special. Frankly, I didn't
                  even notice any activity that would have produced a meal. She finally
                  turned around and said to me: "Stay for dinner." I asked when it
                  would be ready and she said, "Now." I was floored. While we spoke, a
                  pie, chicken and roast potatoes and something else I forget had been
                  going on. A full meal with nothing out of cans and a homemade
                  dessert, yet it appeared that she had just been chatting.

                  That's the nonchalance of Brother David and Brother Raphael. It
                  wasn't that they didn't care, it was that things of sanctity had
                  become so much second nature to them that many of those around them
                  never noticed that dinner was ready. May that nonchalance of sanctity
                  come to us all. Say a prayer for Brothers David and Raphael and especially for
                  Ann, now also gone to God.

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



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                • Br. Jerome Leo
                  +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, physical and mental health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Michael
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jan 7, 2010
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                    Prayers, please, for the spiritual, physical and mental health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                    Michael LoPiccolo's daughter-in-law, Cheryl, who will have Angioplasty Monday morning at 7:30am.

                    Dot discharged from the hospital, but still has a way to go, prayers for her continued recovery and for closure in her son's death.

                    Brian, taking his music theory exams.

                    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

                    January 8, May 9, September 8
                    Chapter 1: On the Kinds of Monks

                    It is well known that there are four kinds of monks.
                    The first kind are the Cenobites:
                    those who live in monasteries
                    and serve under a rule and an Abbot.

                    The second kind are the Anchorites or Hermits:
                    those who,
                    no longer in the first fervor of their reformation,
                    but after long probation in a monastery,
                    having learned by the help of many brethren
                    how to fight against the devil,
                    go out well armed from the ranks of the community
                    to the solitary combat of the desert.
                    They are able now,
                    with no help save from God,
                    to fight single-handed against the vices of the flesh
                    and their own evil thoughts.

                    The third kind of monks, a detestable kind, are the Sarabaites.
                    These, not having been tested,
                    as gold in the furnace (Wis. 3:6),
                    by any rule or by the lessons of experience,
                    are as soft as lead.
                    In their works they still keep faith with the world,
                    so that their tonsure marks them as liars before God.
                    They live in twos or threes, or even singly,
                    without a shepherd,
                    in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord's.
                    Their law is the desire for self-gratification:
                    whatever enters their mind or appeals to them,
                    that they call holy;
                    what they dislike, they regard as unlawful.

                    The fourth kind of monks are those called Gyrovagues.
                    These spend their whole lives tramping from province to province,
                    staying as guests in different monasteries
                    for three or four days at a time.
                    Always on the move, with no stability,
                    they indulge their own wills
                    and succumb to the allurements of gluttony,
                    and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites.
                    Of the miserable conduct of all such
                    it is better to be silent than to speak.

                    Passing these over, therefore,
                    let us proceed, with God's help,
                    to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks,the Cenobites.

                    REFLECTION

                    What are the two major things that St. Benedict dislikes about the
                    bad types of monk? They have no stability and they follow their own
                    wills. Obedience is the essence of monastic struggle, and we will be
                    touching on it throughout the Holy Rule. Stability, while getting
                    lots of mention, deservedly takes a lesser role in the Rule, even
                    though it has become a vow for Benedictines, so it might pay to take
                    a closer look at stability right at the beginning of our reading of
                    the Rule.

                    The Desert Fathers said: "Stay in your cell and your cell will teach
                    you everything." Real cinch, right? Wrong! Don't picture staying in
                    one's cell like a personal day from work, when you sleep as late as
                    you like, get dressed at noon (if then!) and decide you can eat for
                    the day without leaving the house to go to the store or, for that
                    matter, without leaving the couch. That's not what this is about.

                    Monastics could tell you
                    that the cell can be paradise, but it can also be hell, a
                    furnace of nearly impossible heat. In fact, for many of us, it has
                    been both at one time or another, and maybe, just maybe, it isn't
                    done switching roles yet! Times of paradise are nice, they can swell
                    the heart with gratitude and love, but every religious knows that we
                    cannot stay on the mountaintop forever, like Peter, we may not pitch tents there.

                    The furnace, now there's a fetching little image! But it is
                    essential, too. Benedictine life seeks to lead us to God. For every
                    single one of us, that means cleaning out a lot of imperfection. We
                    may start out eagerly wanting to be like "gold tried in the furnace,
                    seven times refined," but it's a safe bet that early on, after a time
                    or two in that inferno, we'll be trying to bargain for less, maybe
                    four or five times refined at most! It's no debutante's ball in
                    there!

                    Hate the furnace/gold imagery? Can't blame you there, especially if
                    you live in the North and furnaces are tricky and expensive worries!
                    Try a sauna. Still hard, still challenging, still sweats a LOT of
                    gunk out. However, make sure you jump in the cold water right after
                    the sauna, just so you don't think all this stuff is REALLY a spa!

                    The fact is, for Benedictines, stability, whether of cloister or
                    geography or of heart, is a major piece of the puzzle. It's the
                    ability to stick with it, stay in there, keep trying. It is the
                    fixedness, not just of place, but of heart and will. It is more than
                    just not moving around.

                    A consumerist society is fueled by desire, change and variety. Small
                    wonder that it encourages us to be always moving, always seeking the
                    novel, always distracted: it's profit base depends on that and,
                    whatever else may be said, consumerism is a greedy little devil.
                    Stability flies in the face of all these falsehoods. It tells us
                    that "rut" and routine are two very different things for us. The
                    routine, the mundane, the everyday and predictable are precisely the
                    arenas in which we must strive and win in the spiritual life.

                    Stability teaches us that. Our fleeting hells have heaven within them
                    and our Edens can turn into Dead Seas in a flash. Stability forces us
                    to stick with it, to weather those changes, to know EVERY side of
                    life and love and heart and place. No wonder St. Benedict loved it
                    so! It is the courage of which monastics are made!

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




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                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                    +PAX Prayers, please for Roger, Megan s husband. He is in the hospital again, this time with stomach flu. With medication and IV rehydration they expect him
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jan 8, 2010
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                      Prayers, please for Roger, Megan's husband. He is in the hospital again, this time with stomach flu. With medication and IV rehydration they expect him to be released in a few days. Meanwhile the extreme cold, blowing snow and loss of his pay due to illness have caused Megan and their son, James, now four months old, additional stress.

                      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

                      January 9, May 10, September 9
                      Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

                      An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
                      should always remember what she is called,
                      and live up to the name of Superior.
                      For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
                      being called by a name of His,
                      which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
                      "You have received a Spirit of adoption ...,
                      by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!

                      Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
                      anything which is against the Lord's precepts;
                      on the contrary,
                      her commands and her teaching
                      should be a leaven of divine justice
                      kneaded into the minds of her disciples.

                      REFLECTION

                      Folks, the abbot is a parent, so, while I am writing about abbots in
                      my experience, this is also true of parents, or any authority
                      position. Stick with me, you'll see what I mean in the end.

                      It will no doubt come as a great relief to other cranky types like
                      me to note that the leaven gently kneaded into the minds of certain
                      disciples often seems to have a downright under whelming effect. A
                      hallmark of us curmudgeonly types is impatience: we do not suffer
                      fools gladly, the miracle is that we endure them at all. Most of all,
                      we want those fools FIXED, right now, or yesterday at the latest!

                      The tragedy of this is that, in assuming we can recognize fools so
                      terribly well, we completely miss the fool at work in ourselves.

                      That's not the only issue, though. This leaven-in-the-dough stuff
                      works two ways. Throw a measure of leaven into a heap of cornmeal and
                      you'll wind up with a different critter than several cups of
                      buckwheat or flour would produce. For all I know, you could probably
                      throw yeast into concrete and wind up with a meringue-like patio.
                      Both components are essential to the change, both elements affect the
                      outcome.

                      Abbot and monastic, parent and child, boss and employer, all these
                      are very, very intricate duets of God's mercy and grace. Neither may
                      be very evident to one while in the midst of things! Time and wisdom
                      and hindsight bring a different view. Beyond that, all of us change:
                      the characters in the catalyst are always changing, no matter how
                      subtly. God has done some awesomely loving fine-tuning here!

                      God uses human means to accomplish His will, as my favorite
                      professor, Dr. Jean Ronan, so often said. Ah, but the abbacy scores
                      doubly on this maxim. A very human abbot is elected by a very human
                      community. Most often, abbots are elected to counteract each other.

                      The human community gets tired of the very human tendency of an abbot
                      to stress one thing above others. Hence, tight reins are often
                      replaced with loose ones and vice versa.

                      It is also worthy of note
                      that, within about three years, roughly the same number of people
                      will be sorely complaining about either extreme or the lack thereof!

                      Those human means which God uses are often quite firmly addicted to
                      extremes. The extremes then vex a majority to the opposite extreme.
                      (I know this is the Marxist dialectic and I know it is not always
                      true, but it does have a kernel of application. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.) Sometime after we are all so fatigued with polarization that we have briefly
                      stopped watching, perhaps a median virtue ensues!

                      And what about that leaven that I couldn't notice having much effect?
                      Well, neither I nor anyone else knows, save the person and God. Some
                      die, some leave before the effect is seen. Leaven works. It may work
                      slowly, it may work in a variety of ways, but all leaven does
                      something sooner or later! Faith and trust in God's Divine Mercy
                      require that we have a LOT of patience with bread cast on waters in
                      tremendous hope!

                      A final note, much, maybe even MOST of the leavening work of grace
                      and sanctification in our own hearts and souls takes place unnoticed, the
                      silent, unsung, yet constant workings of the Divine Mercy. Usually we
                      don't even realize it until a long while after its completion. One
                      day we wake up and finally notice something is different, something is
                      better in us. Such secret works are all the
                      gratuitous gift of the Leaven of all leavens Himself! Deo gratias!!!!

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



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                    • Br. Jerome Leo
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                      Message 10 of 20 , Jan 9, 2010
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