Holy Rule for Feb. 27
Deo gratias, Serena was safely delivered of a beautiful baby girl, as yet unnamed, prayers for them both and for all their family, especially proud grandparents Marian and Dave.
Prayers for the eternal rest of 3 Iraqi Christians murdered in their home in Mosul, and for all Christians under threat of persecution in Iraq.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of M., having gone through a terrible divorce and now needing to find a place to live. Both spouses have addiction issues and the other spouse got custody of the four children. Prayers, please, for 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
February 27, June 28, October 28
Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery
If the community is a large one, let there be chosen out of it
brethren of good repute and holy life, and let them be appointed
deans. These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,
observing the commandments of God and the instructions of their
Let men of such character be chosen deans that the Abbot may with
confidence share his burdens among them. Let them be chosen not by
rank but according to their worthiness of life and the wisdom of
If any of these deans should become inflated with pride and found
deserving of censure,
let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time. If he will
not amend, then let him be deposed and another be put in his place
who is worthy of it.
And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.
Did anyone read this as I did at first, many years ago, and
wonder: "Why did St. Benedict give them an academic name
like "deans"? Well, it was probably the other way around! Since the
first schools were monastic ones, it is quite likely that the
term "dean" entered academia via the Holy Rule!
Surely the academic gown of today is a modified form of our
Benedictine choir robe, the cowl or cuculla. In fact, Benedictines
used to wear their cucullas with the appropriate academic hoods as
their formal dress at graduations and the like. With all due respect
to the johnny-come-latelies like the Dominicans, Franciscans and
Jesuits, when they don full academic regalia, they're wearing a
derived form of our choir habit!
But, enough of trivia...This chapter repeats another important
consideration in St. Benedict's plan: people are not to be
overburdened. This theme is less noticeable than the more important
ones of moderation and the like, but it is there. Again and again,
the Holy Rule says that people should have help with their charges,
certain officials should even be exempted from serving in the
Two things are going on here, both very important. Surely the first
is kindness, gentle consideration for human frailty. The second,
however, is every bit as defining and important: we are not our
work, we are not our jobs, our vocation and worth is only connected
such things tangentially at best. Our motto is Prayer AND Work. The
message is that neither of these should make the other impossible.
This message is equally important for both choir monastics and
Oblates. If your work is so much that your prayer suffers,
something is wrong. However, especially true for those of us in the
secular world, if your prayer is so much that your job or children
or marriage suffers, something is REALLY wrong. If your work
deprives your family or spouse, it might be time to look at
changing it, time to rearrange goals and priorities a bit.
One of the occasional problems of modern life everywhere is not
just that we are too busy, but that we FOCUS too much attachment
and will on stuff that really doesn't matter. Change that focus.
Picture your job today if you had died yesterday. The important
stuff would still get done by someone else. The rest, your own
agenda, would go merrily
down the tubes.
Well, learn from that! A LOT of our own agendas are worth little
more than that: going down the tubes. So why waste so much time and
spiritual and emotional energy on them? As it does so frequently,
the Holy Rule and Benedictine life tell us: "Get real!"
Train yourself- and it is not always easy- to learn what NOT to
care about at all, what does not, and should not matter one bit.
That is the detachment that is truly holy. It is not all that hard
to learn, either, if one keeps at it and asks God for His grace,
without which we can do
Love and prayers,
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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).
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
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,
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