Holy Rule for May 4
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Jean, mother of our Oblate Phil Zaleski, and for Phil and all her family and all who mourn her.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Esteban Woods, stabbed to death in Venezuela for unknown motives, and for all who mourn him.
Prayers for the success of a Rachel's Vineyard retreat being held later this month, and for more women to sign up. The retreat is for women who have had an abortion.
Prayers for Adrian, renewing his private vows this Sunday.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of Brian, in ICU and not likely to live, and for all his loved ones and all who take care of him. Prayers for his happy death, should God choose to call him now.
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
January 3, May 4, September 3
And the Lord, seeking his laborer
in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
"Who is the one who will have life,
and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
And if, hearing Him, you answer,
"I am the one,"
God says to you,
"If you will have true and everlasting life,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips that they speak no guile.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
And when you have done these things,
My eyes shall be upon you
and My ears open to your prayers;
and before you call upon Me,
I will say to you,
'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).
What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
Behold, in His loving kindness
the Lord shows us the way of life.
The tenderness of St. Benedict, as well as his tender image of God,
is evident all through this portion, harking back to his fatherly
affection at the beginning of the Prologue. The intensity, the
sweetness of the last lines today is so great that it borders on too
much. This must be St. Benedict at his all but gushingly most
sincere, and that is a good time to listen with extra care to him,
since he doesn't just gush on every other page!
In the midst of all this sweetness, look at the question he puts in
the Lord's mouth: "Who is the one who will have life and desires to
see good days?" Granted, it is a quote from the Psalms, but St.
Benedict could have used something else, or written his own, or
employed a rhetorical question. He didn't, though, he used this one
and that is most fortunate.
He does not have God in the teeming marketplace hollering out: "Who
wants to be a monk? Who wants to be a nun? Who wants to be an
Oblate?" (Chuckle: if God DID call out "Who wants to be an Oblate?",
how many people you know would yell back: "What's an Oblate??") No
doubt, for some on the monastic way, those may have been the first
questions. For many others, it was not nearly that direct.
This question allows us to ponder (if God and you will pardon the
phrase,) the Divine sneakiness. How many of the stories we hear of
how people came to the monastic way and were drawn to the Benedictine
life give witness to God's loving "sneakiness." God cannot lie and
His query here is not a lie, but He can certainly CHOOSE the truth He
uses to draw us. Like any parent of a stubborn child, He knows that
some approaches work better than others.
I know Brother Bernard Aurentz, now dead, joined St. Leo because he
liked Florida and thought the monastery was on the Gulf of Mexico!
The picture of a palm tree by water in a vocation ad sure sold him!
He just didn't realize they were on a large lake, 40 miles inland!
God didn't deceive him, He just didn't make the geography evident
until the guy arrived and stayed for the rest of his life.
God doesn't trick us in a wrong way, but He may allow us to do the
right thing for the wrong reason! No doubt He knows that's the only
way He could have gotten us in the door!
There is a lot more than sneakiness in this question, however. How
many times, when speaking of monastic life, or married life, or any
vocation, do we stress its harsher aspects? To some extent, monastic
life and married life get the brunt of this: "Oh, it isn't easy,
blah, blah, blah...It's no cinch, there's a lot of hardship." OK,
there is, no problem there, but there is also a lot of sweetness if
any vocation is done right.
How many people would have gotten married if the proposal included a
litany of night-feedings and diaper pails, much less if the proposal
could have announced the birth of a severely handicapped child or the
paralysis of the spouse or the tragedy of an auto accident far in the
future? We do both marriage and monastic life a great harm when we
emphasize only the difficult things.
There IS joy in marriage, great joy, and there is in the monastic
way, too. Just like any good proposal, God asks us to respond to the
good things He is offering and they are not slight!
By the way, a traditional joke used when a monastic is writing his or her
profession chart is to tell the person to leave a lot of space between the
lines: so God can add things later!! He has a way of doing that, with or
without the spaces between the lines!!
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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