Holy Rule for May 16
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Halena, Ruth and
Gloria, and for all their loved ones and all who mourn them.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Andy, who would have been 37
yesterday, and for his parents and all who mourn him.
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 15, May 16, September 15
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Above all let her not neglect or undervalue
the welfare of the souls committed to her,
in a greater concern for fleeting, earthly, perishable things;
but let her always bear in mind
that she has undertaken the government of souls
and that she will have to give an account of them.
And if she be tempted to allege a lack of earthly means,
let her remember what is written:
"First seek the kingdom of God and His justice,
and all these things shall be given you besides" (Ps. 33:10).
"Nothing is wanting to those who fear Him."
Let her know, then,
that she who has undertaken the government of souls
must prepare herself to render an account of them.
Whatever number of sisters she knows she has under her care,
she may be sure beyond doubt that on Judgment Day
she will have to give the Lord an account of all these souls,
as well as of her own soul.
Thus the constant apprehension
about her coming examination as shepherd (Ezech. 34)
concerning the sheep entrusted to her,
and her anxiety over the account that must be given for others,
make her careful of her own record.
And while by her admonitions she is helping others to amend,
she herself is cleansed of her faults.
Four times in this portion alone, St. Benedict reminds those in
authority that theirs is a government "of souls." No wonder material
things are not to be put first. Nothing fleeting at all must come
before the souls of those we care for, whether abbess or parent or
teacher or nurse. Our own souls are intricately linked with the
welfare of those we govern or care for or serve. (BTW, ideally, in
St. Benedict's model of authority, all three functions of ruling,
loving and serving are present at all times. Lofty goal that!)
It's easy to forget that this reading covers a lot more than material
things. All things perishable, empty and earthly are included, even if more
detailed coverage is given to the material ones. It is a sad truth
that we often congratulate ourselves for avoiding one fault while falling
headlong into another.
"What would people say?" is a question sometimes necessary, but all
too often it becomes an idol on its own. That's when trouble ensues.
As with material things, there is a certain BALANCED (getting sick of
that word? Welcome to Benedictine values!) concern for appearances
here. We bear a responsibility, as any parent could tell you, for the
material welfare of the bodies those souls we govern run around in,
and we have to be careful of some appearances that would cause
scandal, but there it stops.
The parent or superior who can give an example of courage in the face
of false values to their charges has given an inestimable gift,
indeed. A wise person can contrast the nagging question of "What
would people think?" with "What are they entitled to think? Have we
all not an obligation to think the best of others?"
One can be a genuine, confessed sinner and say to the world, "I know
what sin is." Sinners all, we may be far more likely to listen to
such a person than we would be to one of pretended (and pretentious!)
perfection. We like the idea of wounded healers, but I can assure you
from the inside that wounded healers do not play terribly well with
many in church power. "What would people think?" Such reasoning robs
us, sinners all, of our strongest preaching points and robs those
wounded ones around us of the needful message that there is room
within for them.
See what I have been getting at here? A parent or superior with a
genuine sense of what is real can make their charges see reality,
too. It is always a gift to see reality, because reality is truth
and Jesus said: "I am the truth." God IS Truth, and every fragment of
truth we garner on this strange, checkered journey of life will make Him
instantly more familiar to us when we meet Him face to face.
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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