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Holy Rule for Jan. 2

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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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 of 20 , Jan 9, 2010
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