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Holy Rule for May 13

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Erma and for all who mourn her. Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Steve s wife, carrying
    Message 1 of 149 , May 12, 2010
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      Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Erma and for all who mourn her.

      Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Steve's wife, carrying more than one baby (I think it may be twins, maybe more...) One of the babies is showing problems at 22 weeks and she needs prayers badly. Prayers, too, for Steve and the babies' grandmom, Chrissy, as well as for all who take care of them.

      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 12, May 13, September 12
      Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

      Let her make no distinction of persons in the monastery.
      Let her not love one more than another,
      unless it be one whom she finds better
      in good works or in obedience.
      Let her not advance one of noble birth
      ahead of one who was formerly a slave,
      unless there be some other reasonable ground for it.
      But if the Abbess for just reason think fit to do so,
      let her advance one of any rank whatever.
      Otherwise let them keep their due places;
      because, whether slaves or free, we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28)
      and bear in equal burden of service
      in the army of the same Lord.
      For with God there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2:11).
      Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight:
      if we be found better than others in good works and humility.
      Therefore let the Abbess show equal love to all
      and impose the same discipline on all
      according to their deserts.

      REFLECTION

      Choosing favorites is a terribly risky business for any of us,
      parent, abbot or supervisor. Our own self-image (or lack thereof,)
      can get very tangled in this process. If we choose wrongly, it
      empowers one and strangles the rest, to one degree or another.

      Christopher Marlowe (+1593) wrote a great short poem about love at
      first sight. Ah, the tragic romantic in me absolutely LOVED
      that poem- at first sight! I dog-eared the page many years ago, to
      more easily find it on occasions such as this!

      "It lies not in our power to love or hate,
      For will in us is overruled by fate.
      When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
      We wish that one should lose, the other win;
      And one especially do we affect
      Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
      The reason no man knows, let it suffice
      What we behold is censured by our eyes.
      Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
      Whoever loved, that loved not at first sight?"
      (from "Hero and Leander")

      Big fan of love at first sight here. Happened to me several times.
      All of 'em were wrong. Had I looked more closely "at first sight" to
      what Marlowe was saying, even he knew that what we see "is censured
      by our eyes." Of course, Marlowe lived in Elizabethan England. Such
      loves ruled by fate and impervious to reason were all the rage.

      That was exactly the type of love for those under
      us that St. Benedict said to avoid. The poem has an entirely
      different message when one considers that ALL our brethren and
      children and comrades are gold ingots, all are stripped runners,
      devoid of fashion or rank. Marlowe may chalk the preference up to
      Fate, but Fate has been an awfully handy catch-all through the
      centuries.

      One can hang things on Fate that are so embarrassing one
      would rather not own up to one's complicity in them at all! Fate,
      however, is about as real as the "unseen hand" that keeps free
      markets so equitable. Both are lovely fantasies. Neither are good
      means of choice.

      I only know of two monastic favorites who were actually loved by all
      and really were fabulous people. I have lived with (and under!) many
      more abbatial favorites who were not, who fooled no one but the
      abbot. Of the families I have known , the favored child was not always
      the best. In doing that memory work, however, I warmly recall a family of
      11 children where no favorites existed. They truly all were gold ingots.
      What wonderful parents they had!

      St. Benedict lived and wrote over a thousand years before Marlowe,
      but he knew well the human bent to love at first sight, to love
      without reason or rhyme. He quite rightly points out that this is one
      of the many human tendencies we have to conquer. If we don't, it will
      harm us and harm those under our care, including the favored one.

      Favoritism harms the one in charge, too. Since others can see all too
      well what the parent or boss cannot, it diminishes their trust in the
      authority figure. If she can be so glaringly wrong about this, why
      not about something else? Every person is fallible, but a careless
      superior can emphasize her own lack of brilliance by poor choices.
      This doesn't make governing or being governed any easier for anyone.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA


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    • 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).

        REFLECTION

        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
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA



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