Holy Rule for Apr. 23
Prayers, please, for the Christians in Bhopal, India, who have suffered beatings and injuries and one death from attacks by Hindu extremists. Prayers for the eternal rest of the one who died and for all those beaten or injured and for peaceful co-existence among religions.
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
April 24, August 24, December 24
Chapter 66: On the Porter of the Monastery
At the gate of the monastery
let there be placed a wise old woman,
who knows how to receive and to give a message,
and whose maturity will prevent her from straying about.
This porter should have a room near the gate,
so that those who come may always find someone at hand
to attend to their business.
And as soon as anyone knocks or a poor person hails her,
let her answer "Thanks be to God" or "A blessing!"
Then let her attend to them promptly,
with all the meekness inspired by the fear of God
and with the warmth of charity.
Should the porter need help,
let her have one of the younger sisters.
If it can be done,
the monastery should be so established
that all the necessary things,
such as water, mill, garden and various workshops,
may be within the enclosure,
so that there is no necessity
for the sisters to go about outside of it,
since that is not at all profitable for their souls.
We desire that this Rule be read often in the community,
so that none of the sisters may excuse herself
on the ground of ignorance.
Modern monasteries in our Order rarely have gatehouses, let alone
porters waiting at them. In one way, that's too bad, because one
often sees visitors come to a monastery without a clue as to where to
go first, or how to contact someone. On the other hand, it would
wasteful to employ one person full-time at such an endeavor in our
smaller communities of today, since whole days may go by in many
places with few or none needing assistance.
What we have today is the phone, and phone manners are how this best
translates into modern life for both Oblates and professed. It would be a
thing, God forbid, if a monk might answer the phone with an attitude
that clearly said: "You've got some nerve putting me out like this,
disturbing me, etc." with little concern for the person on the other end
of the line.
One certainly wouldn't want to call such a monastery twice. If one
had never called one before, it is unlikely that one would want to
try another, to go for 2 out of 3, just in case. See the great
responsibility we have?
When a phone or doorbell rings, whether in a great Benedictine abbey
or an urban Benedictine Oblate's apartment, we have the opportunity to
practice the hospitable grace that the Holy Rule requires of all.
Dorothy Day's friend and mentor, Father Hugo, used to say that we
love God as much as the one we love the least. That would readily
translate here. I LOVE to see certain guests arrive, look forward to
it as soon as I hear they are coming. Those are not the receptions on
which I should judge my hospitality. The difficult ones are.
The point here is that we ARE Benedictines, whether our answering
style makes that evident or not. I might not like to think so, but
the anonymity of just saying "Hello," without my name or title does
not entitle me to be harsh or gruff or rude. All of us are bound by
something Benedictine within us to be kind and gracious to all who
call or visit.
Someone who calls the guesthouse- or an Oblate's home- for the first
time can be driven away or attracted by the way they are dealt with
on the phone. To risk alienating someone because of our own moods
might mean that we cheat someone out of a spiritual friendship they
sorely need. I can't tell you how many people who just called us out
of nowhere in the last nine years have become real members of our
family, greatly beneficial to themselves and to us. Anyone of those
first experiences could have been irreparably soured by a cranky
phone manner. Look at what all of us would have lost had that
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]