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Catching up: a missed reading

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    Since this year is not a Leap Year, a reading got skipped that should have been appended to the 28th. Here it is: February 29, June 30, October 30 Chapter 23:
    Message 1 of 149 , Feb 28, 2010
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      Since this year is not a Leap Year, a reading got skipped that
      should have been appended to the 28th. Here it is:

      February 29, June 30, October 30
      Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults
      (If there is no 29th of Feburary, append this entry to the previous.)

      If a brother is found to be obstinate,
      or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
      or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
      and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
      the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
      as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
      If he fails to amend,
      let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
      But if even then he does not reform,
      let him be placed under excommunication,
      provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
      if he is perverse, however,
      let him undergo corporal punishment.


      It is sad, indeed, that a chapter like this ever had to be written,
      sad in St. Benedict's time, sad in our own. How little human beings
      change in some ways! Why on earth would anyone come to a monastic
      struggle with an attitude that says: "I know better. I'm right and
      they're wrong."? Why would anyone persist in staying with such an

      Because they are blind. It's another favorite trick of Satan.
      or clouded assessments of the reality at hand are his forte.
      Especially when these phony lenses get applied to religious matters,
      the obstinacy and self-righteousness can go to extremes.

      Look, beloveds, every single one of us, from the newest Oblate
      candidate to the Abbot Primate, came to the monastic life, to the
      Holy Rule, to be CHANGED. We came to learn, not to teach. We came to
      reform ourselves, not the monastery. We not only arrived with that
      attitude, we must keep it all of our lives. We came to surrender,
      to demand.

      That's why this chapter is both so very sad and so very important.
      The monastic at any point in life who has renounced that attitude of
      discipleship has abandoned the struggle. We must hope it is a
      temporary abandonment, because it can be fatal to one's vocation. It
      can undo all the good work we have behind us. It can delude us into
      thinking we are persevering when we have actually long ago quit.

      Superiors and community (or family!) can be a big reality check here
      and that is what this chapter seeks to provide. Gentleness, love and
      tact are in order, but something must be done. One must be very
      careful at such times not to lord it over another smugly. But one
      must also be very careful not to do nothing at all, especially if
      is in authority. The risk to the falling member is too great to

      If, alas, you find yourself to be that falling member, for heaven's
      sake (quite literally!) LISTEN. That is such a Benedictine trait,
      Holy Rule begins with that word. If others are that upset, there may
      well be something wrong. Don't deny it. Check it out with all the
      humility you can muster, but be very aware that your humility may
      well be the thing that is currently terribly impaired. Be as honest
      as truthful as you can. Try, try with all your strength, to let
      yourself always be changed for the good, and strive to see that
      even when it is hard.

      If you are one of the lucky ones not in this leaking boat, be deeply
      humbled and grateful to God. Pray every day for all of those in the
      Order, the Church, the world, who are sinking. They need our prayers
      badly. Think how different the Titanic might have been with enough

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • 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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        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
        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
        Petersham, MA

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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