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Holy Rule for Feb. 9

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Dean, who took his own life, and for all his family and all who mourn him, especially his brother Joey and
    Message 1 of 149 , Feb 8, 2010
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Dean, who took his own life, and for all his family and all who mourn him, especially his brother Joey and sister-in-law, Carol.

      Continued prayers for another person tempted to suicide.

      Prayers, please, for one I was asked to put on for prayers and simply cannot remember. God will know who and I should learn to write things down at once...

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

      February 9, June 10, October 10
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The twelfth degree of humility
      is that a monk not only have humility in his heart
      but also by his very appearance make it always manifest
      to those who see him.
      That is to say that whether he is at the Work of God,
      in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road,
      in the fields or anywhere else,
      and whether sitting, walking or standing,
      he should always have his head bowed
      and his eyes toward the ground.
      Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment,
      he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment
      and constantly say in his heart
      what the publican in the Gospel said
      with his eyes fixed on the earth:
      "Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven"
      (Luke 18:13; Matt. 8:8);
      and again with the Prophet:
      "I am bowed down and humbled everywhere" (Ps. 37:7,9; 118:107).

      REFLECTION

      Alcoholics Anonymous jokes about what they call "Two-steppers," that
      is, people who decide to jump right from Step 1, acknowledging their
      problem, to Step 12, carrying the message to others, with nothing in
      between! Wrong! Doesn't work that way...

      Benedictines sometimes see a similar mistake in novices and humility.
      Bingo, they go right to the twelfth degree with nothing to build
      their external humility on but the images of popular fiction and such.

      My friend, Bishop Basil, tells me that his Spiritual Father used to tell him:
      "Beware the monk whose humility you're always tripping over." Amen!!!
      Genuine humility is not affected or showy, it is quite the reverse!
      People who learn that have a chance to stay, people who don't often
      leave because no monastery fits their model, though they
      may keep looking for one that does!

      Second Section of the Reading:

      Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore,
      the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God
      which casts out fear.
      And all those precepts
      which formerly he had not observed without fear,
      he will now begin to keep by reason of that love,
      without any effort,
      as though naturally and by habit.
      No longer will his motive be the fear of hell,
      but rather the love of Christ,
      good habit
      and delight in the virtues
      which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit
      in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.

      This crucially important second part is why none of those two-steppers
      quite make it AND why the first section is spared from
      Jansenism. (Jansenism, you may recall, was a heresy which held that
      we could NEVER be worthy, NEVER do enough penance and so forth. In
      its sad extremes, it harked to a sort of Pelagian attitude, implying
      that we might be able to do something to save ourselves if we did a lot of
      harsh stuff!
      But, of course, even that would never be enough. It was a terribly mean
      idea of God.)

      Humility is NOT affected, not presupposing, hence efforts to LOOK
      humble when one is not so will fall woefully short of the mark. No
      Academy Awards for this one! When they call for the envelope, it will
      be empty!

      Genuine humility is the most unself-conscious thing in the
      world. It produces the external demeanor without any further ado,
      because the person actually (and usually unwittingly!) BECOMES the
      truth they are striving to live. Humility shows up in the face, in
      everything, just as years of bitterness or years of love often do.

      You couldn't hide humility if you wanted to, but you don't need to,
      because the true humility is rarely even noticed and those who are
      less humble tend to discount the really humble as nobodies. In one
      sense, they are quite right! Both would agree on that!

      If one never gets to the joy and love of the end of this passage,
      there will be no reason not to look artificially rather glum over
      sins that one probably doesn't believe at heart are great anyhow.
      This is where some monastics miss the mark. They can stop at the
      perpetual gloom and dread point, without realizing the contemplative
      joy and love beyond that.

      Monasticism is true, but the Gospel is more so. Neither Jansenism nor
      perpetual gloom would play very well with Matthew, Mark, Luke or
      John. That means they wouldn't play well with St. Benedict, either,
      as his second portion surely guarantees. Love and joy and humility
      are an inseparable trio! When fear is cast out, gloom goes right
      along with it!

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


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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Don, for whom we prayed, has died without seeing the Priest. Ardent prayers for the repose of his soul and for his brother, Jim, his wife and family and
      Message 149 of 149 , Jun 6, 2010
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        +PAX

        Don, for whom we prayed, has died without seeing the Priest. Ardent prayers for the repose of his soul and for his brother, Jim, his wife and family and all who mourn him.

        Kaitlin, whose test we prayed for has also been able to get out of the bad real estate deal she was enmeshed in. Deo gratias, and thanksgiving prayers!

        Lola, whose back surgery we prayed for, has now developed pain/numbness in her other leg. Unsure of the cause, possibly a bone chip or spur, they are taking her back to surgery this afternoon. Continued prayers, please, and for her brother, Richard and all their family.

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

        February 6, June 7, October 7
        Chapter 7: On Humility

        The ninth degree of humility
        is that a monk restrain his tongue and keep silence,
        not speaking until he is questioned.
        For the Scripture shows
        that "in much speaking there is no escape from sin" (Prov. 10:19)
        and that "the talkative man is not stable on the earth" (Ps. 139:12).

        REFLECTION

        OK, if you are a parent, you cannot speak to your children only when
        they question you. The therapy bills in later years would be
        astronomical. There are many situations in a Benedictine life lived
        in the world, among non-monastics, where this has to be altered, but
        its kernel of truth must be discovered and maintained.

        WHY do we talk needlessly? Quite often it is nothing more than a
        trick to change the reality around us. We are bored, or we feel we
        are not getting enough attention or we think the mood too heavy, so
        we speak to change whatever annoys us at the moment. I should know.
        I am infamous for creating my own entertainment when things seem
        dull to me. That's not always a great idea...

        Some tough moments, some difficult stuff are meant to be endured.
        They are part of our necessary learning and growth. Ever notice how
        we assess a child's maturity by its ability to be quiet and non-
        fidgety in surroundings (like Church!) that do not spoon feed its
        attention span? Well, the same is true of us at every stage. We do
        ourselves harm if we defuse every single tense moment with a word or
        two. We cheat ourselves.

        All too often we speak only to remind the universe around us, which
        has carelessly forgotten for a second that we are its center, of a
        whole bevy of falsehoods: I am the cutest, smartest, or wittiest, I
        have the solution to all of this. What folly on the part of the
        entire cosmos to forget our importance! Better speak to clear the
        matter up...

        Those who know me are thinking: "HE wrote THIS?!?" Yes, alas, I am
        guilty of all I wrote. Three times a year the Holy Rule reminds me of
        that and each time I am aware that I need to work on it. Thanks be to
        God, the Rule IS read three times a year: usually by the time the
        next reading comes up, my interest has flagged and I have to start
        over. As for the part about the talkative not being "stable on the
        earth," well, there have been times in the last 18 years
        when God had to nail my feet to the floor to keep me faithful and I am
        not dead yet... I have not always been His most willing pupil, but
        oh, is He ever patient! And infinitely merciful!

        But, as one Desert Father said, that's what we do all day in
        monasteries: "We fall down and we get up."

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



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