Prayers, please, for Jerry, a pastor hoping to lead his congregation
in more positive directions, and for all his flock!
Prayers, too for David and his wife, Elaine. David is having delicate
throat surgery tomorrow; and for John, who has had some financial
glitches he is not responsible for after selling his house. God's
will is best! Thanks so much. NRN JL
March 20, July 20, November 19
Chapter 41: At What Hours the Meals Should Be Taken
From holy Easter until Pentecost
let the brothers take dinner at the sixth hour
and supper in the evening.
From Pentecost throughout the summer,
unless the monks have work in the fields
let them fast on Wednesdays and Fridays until the ninth hour;
on the other days let them dine at the sixth hour.
This dinner at the sixth hour shall be the daily schedule
if they have work in the fields
or the heat of summer is extreme;
the Abbot's foresight shall decide on this.
Thus it is that he should adapt and arrange everything
in such a way that souls may be saved
and that the brethren may do their work
without just cause for murmuring.
From the Ides of September until the beginning of Lent
let them always take their dinner at the ninth hour.
In Lent until Easter let them dine in the evening.
But this evening hour shall be so determined
that they will not need the light of a lamp while eating,
Indeed at all seasons
let the hour, whether for supper or for dinner, be so arranged
that everything will be done by daylight.
Something like one third of the United States population is said to
be medically overweight. We don't notice it so much, because we are
used to it, but go to another country and you will see far less
obesity than at home. No doubt our affluence and unhealthy diet is
largely to blame here. Think of the last news clip you saw from
Japan: most of the people are of average weight for their height.
It's a fair guess that this attitude to food in the US has influenced
our attitude to fasting negatively. Now we look on the least thing as
a dreadful privation, when those of us Roman Catholics over fifty can
clearly recall meatless Fridays every week, all year and fasting from
midnight for Communion, even if you were only 7 years old!!
When the US Bishops addressed the issue of Friday abstinence, they
did not abolish it. They merely said some other form of penance might
be substituted. Whoops! That got lost in a big hurry. How many of us-
me included- do something extra on Friday because we do not abstain
from meat? Might be time to take a really hard look at that.
As always, Oblates in the world must find ways that they can fast or
abstain without imposing monastic ways on their non-monastic
families. However, it is worthy of note that Friday abstinence is of
the Church, not the Holy Rule and might be safely re-instituted, with
careful explanation as to WHY we do it, for whole families.
The meatless idea might be easiest for many, but what if something
else was done to really set Friday apart? Skip one, just one half-
hour TV show and you have a slot for a devotional family practice
like the Scripture sharing or the Rosary. Could we imagine just 30
minutes once a week of TV gone? What if (horrors!) you chose to skip
a show you like, but the kids don't? Find something that works for
you and then be faithful to it.
Our spirits are like our bodies in many respects. If we get soft, we
get weak, if we get lazy, our energy actually diminishes while our
total lives suffer from that inactivity. That's why Christian life
itself, not just monastic life, is a life requiring a fair amount of
discipline, of pushing oneself, of self-denial. Those values still
exist in the secular world, but are usually only invoked for profit,
power, athletics or sex. See what I mean? We need badly to get our
acts together in affluent, developed nations.
Love and prayers,