Holy Rule for May 11
Prayers, please, for John and Colleen, seeking foster children to care for, may God send them the right ones and continued prayers for Colleen and her job hunt.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Megan, an alcoholic,
also for her Mother, who has many health issues.
Prayers for Ann Marie to be in total openness for a Baptism
in the Holy Spirit in the Life in the Spirit Seminar tomorrow night.
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 10, May 11, September 10
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Let the Abbess always bear in mind
that at the dread Judgment of God
there will be an examination of these two matters:
her teaching and the obedience of her disciples.
And let the Abbess be sure
that any lack of profit
the master of the house may find in the sheep
will be laid to the blame of the shepherd.
On the other hand,
if the shepherd has bestowed all her pastoral diligence
on a restless, unruly flock
and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior,
then she will be acquitted at the Lord's Judgment
and may say to the Lord with the Prophet:
"I have not concealed Your justice within my heart;
Your truth and Your salvation I have declared" (Ps. 39:11).
"But they have despised and rejected me" (Is. 1:2; Ezech. 20:27).
And then finally let death itself, irresistible,
punish those disobedient sheep under her charge.
Be of good cheer, all abbots and parents! St. Benedict wrote this well
over a thousand years before the dawn of psychiatry. He was very holy
and very wise, but he was a creation of his own times. I think it is
safe to say that, in St. Benedict's time and for many centuries
afterward, there was a tendency to look at most behavior as choice,
not compulsion. Things were somewhat more black and white. Under a
system such as that given in the first half of this reading, a lot of
parents and authority figures of today would fry without a doubt.
I needed exactly the parents I got, so did my Dad, so did my Mom, so did
their parents. That's just another way of saying that we are all victims of
victims,a concept of which St. Benedict probably would never have dreamed.
[Or, that we are all beneficiaries of beneficiaries, because that, too, is true,
and probably more the way St. Benedict's time would have seen things.]
But in some way each of us is a victim or beneficiary of something which shapes
us, as are our parents and so on. We aren't perfect. We also all pass on some of
what shaped us, whether consciously or not. May we always pass on only the
Consider the marvel of God's tailoring one abbess to 50 nuns; quite a
deal, isn't it? Now consider this. For each of us to get our perfect
set of parents, here's a PARTIAL picture of God's fine tuning.
Obviously, the whole chain has to fit or it comes out wrong. We each
have 8,388,608 21st great-grandparents, with a total of parents and
grandparents in those 24 generations of 16,777,214. (Don't forget that
each of those forebears had the same number of ancestors, too!)
That total is comfortably more than the combined populations of the
cities of New York, Boston, Chicago, Tampa, Washington, DC, and the
entire State of Missouri. And, for a person alive today, that would
probably only get you back to about the year 1000 AD. Begin to get
the picture of how God has thought of us (and them!) from all
eternity? There's a lot more than 50 nuns going on here, in fact,
there was a different and equal set of forbears for each of those 50
nuns AND their abbess.
By the way, St. Benedict had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit.
Hence, although he wrote the second part of today's reading, about
the acquittal of the abbess who's done her best, without the benefit
of modern psychology, it nevertheless fits right in to our current
awareness. No one can give what they don't have (or, if they do, it's
only the working of grace that makes that possible.)
I can't teach you Hebrew, I don't know it. But, if I was suddenly presented
with the fact that I'd HAVE to teach Hebrew, I'd buy a beginning text and
we'd stumble through somehow together. How very like parenting,
except that, for most of our partial crowd of sixteen million, there
were no textbooks!
Parents and abbatial types, take heart. God not only CAN use
anything, He HAS to use anything. The human standards throughout
history after Eden have made that more than certain. God knows and
loves each of us. He is more parent than we are and He is, unlike
If a six year old child had been forced to plan the Coronation of the
Queen, fifty-eight years ago in London, it probably would have been
MUCH different. For one thing, there'd probably have been a lot more
elephants and clowns in the parade! Most of us with any kind of
hearts would have smiled at the child's efforts, been surprised that
they actually did so well. That, m'dears, is exactly the attitude of
God toward us, except that He isn't surprised: He knew all along that
we could do well with His grace and help!
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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