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Holy Rule for May 14

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX 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 13, May
    Message 1 of 149 , May 13, 2010
      +PAX

      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 13, May 14, September 13
      Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

      In her teaching
      the Abbess should always follow the Apostle's formula:
      "Reprove, entreat, rebuke" (2 Tim. 4:2);
      threatening at one time and coaxing at another
      as the occasion may require,
      showing now the stern countenance of a mistress,
      now the loving affection of a mother.
      That is to say,
      it is the undisciplined and restless
      whom she must reprove rather sharply;
      it is the obedient, meek and patient
      whom she must entreat to advance in virtue;
      while as for the negligent and disdainful,
      these we charge her to rebuke and correct.

      And let her not shut her eyes to the faults of offenders;
      but, since she has the authority,
      let her cut out those faults by the roots
      as soon as they begin to appear,
      remembering the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo (1 Kings 2-4).
      The well-disposed and those of good understanding
      let her correct with verbal admonition the first and second time.
      But bold, hard, proud and disobedient characters
      she should curb at the very beginning of their ill-doing
      by stripes and other bodily punishments,
      knowing that it is written,
      "the fool is not corrected with words" (Prov. 18:2; 29:19),
      and again,
      "Beat your son with the rod,
      and you will deliver his soul from death"(Prov. 23:13-14).

      REFLECTION

      As our world grows more populated and less personalist, "One size
      fits all" becomes a favorite chant of marketing. We all know that's
      usually not true, and it is surely not true of parenting or
      governing, as St. Benedict points out. This chapter firmly
      contradicts the lie of such marketing. We are all individuals, all
      treasures with different needs. Generic brand parenting will not do.

      I was a miserable failure at discipline when teaching high school
      sophomore English. I am sure it is an experience neither they nor I
      would like to repeat. I tried to treat them like college students or
      adults, a point they had not reached. In my naiveté, I expected them
      to respond in kind. When they didn't, matters escalated between us, but not
      into anything that did much good.

      I was terribly at fault: I didn't see who they were, I gave them what *I*
      would have liked to have had, but I was already in my mid-thirties with
      a lot of life experience. I wasn't serving their needs, because I didn't
      know who they were, nor, in that first year, did I even know how to find
      out! So, like many before me, I substituted what I would want or need and
      proclaimed that one size would fit all. Wrong! NOT!

      Any abbess or parent who wants to try my way, not St. Benedict's,
      will quickly find that it is as hard on them as it is on their charges.
      My year of high school teaching was horrible and I hated it. My
      students hated it, too. It was terrible for both of us at many, many
      points. The light that entered in from time to time, the genuine
      enjoyment of each other was only a flash that appeared rarely, faded
      soon. I pray for those kids (and for those who taught me!) every day
      of my life.

      St. Benedict is not only moderate and balanced, he sees the person
      clearly. He is a personalist of the first rank. Practice his
      principles of government without the checks and balances of this
      portion and you will be very displeased with the results. It
      sometimes takes St. Benedict a while to make his point. Cut him short
      before he has, and you will often wind up very sorry. Always let him
      finish: the whole is a thing of beauty, but the parts may fall far
      short of that.

      Mercifully, God alone can bring good out of anything, so He can even
      use our wrong-headedness to bring others to Him. He can do that with
      obedience, too, but if we give Him a bit less chaos by following
      Benedict's methods rather than our own, it will be better for all
      concerned.

      To a certain point, some people thrive on a lot of leeway, others do
      not. Some people need rigid order, others will wither under that. A
      superior who is into super control will soon be left with none but
      those who need that and a few conflicted types who can at least
      endure it.

      A superior who is too easy-going can also do harm. Sad is the
      community where the only thing that will ever get all the horses back into
      the barn is death, and a few of such exist.

      This is not so different from the message throughout the Holy Rule:
      concern for the other, not the self, eyes on God for the good of all! And, as
      the old-timers would say: "Keep your eyes on your own choir stall." Trust me,
      you will ALWAYS find plenty to keep you busy there if you are honest
      with yourself!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      jeromeleo@...
      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
        +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 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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