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Holy Rule for May 23

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Fr. Jim, now retired his cancer has returned and he s begun treatment. He s aware of
    Message 1 of 149 , May 22, 2010

      Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Fr. Jim, now retired his cancer has returned and he's begun treatment. He's aware of God's presence in this ordeal but asks for prayers. Prayers, too for all his loved ones and all who take care of 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 22, May 23, September 22
      Chapter 5: On Obedience

      The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.
      This is the virtue of those
      who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ;
      who, because of the holy service they have professed,
      and the fear of hell,
      and the glory of life everlasting,
      as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior,
      receive it as a divine command
      and cannot suffer any delay in executing it.
      Of these the Lord says,
      "As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me" (Ps. 17:45).
      And again to teachers He says,
      "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).

      Such as these, therefore,
      immediately leaving their own affairs
      and forsaking their own will,
      dropping the work they were engaged on
      and leaving it unfinished,
      with the ready step of obedience
      follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands.
      And so as it were at the same moment
      the master's command is given
      and the disciple's work is completed,
      the two things being speedily accomplished together
      in the swiftness of the fear of God
      by those who are moved
      with the desire of attaining life everlasting.
      That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way,
      of which the Lord says,
      "Narrow is the way that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14),
      so that,
      not living according to their own choice
      nor obeying their own desires and pleasures
      but walking by another's judgment and command,
      they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them.
      Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord
      in which He says,
      "I have come not to do My own will,
      but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).


      A few monks were talking with a Brother with a charge who was
      expressing his frustration that people did not do what he asked. He
      had tried to be polite, but his requests were ignored or excuses were
      given at every turn. He was clueless as to why this was happening and
      honestly upset.

      Finally, a senior monk interrupted him with one of the nicest remarks
      I have ever heard made to a monastic. He said: "Wait a minute, Brother,
      you don't understand. You're not like other people, you do what you
      are told without further argument." Another monk added: "For most
      people being told to do something is merely a point to begin

      Sad, but true! Bluntly put, obedience doesn't do its best work until it
      messes with your life, until it disturbs you and stirs up your
      complacent, settled smugness. It's rather like a light switch. The
      bulb doesn't go on until someone throws the switch. The potential is
      always there, but no switch, no light. Potential light alone is not
      terribly enlightening, as anyone who's tried to read in a fully-wired,
      darkened room can tell you!

      There is a big difference between apathy and detachment.
      This chapter offers a prime example: one leaves one's own affairs,
      drops whatever one was in the midst of and forsakes one's own will.
      That's detachment. Apathy is selfish, detachment is selfless. Apathy
      makes oneself the center, detachment revolves around God and
      others. Detachment cares deeply, but not for the selfish will!

      Apathy, on the other hand, truly doesn't care one way or the other about
      anything. There is no ascesis in apathy, because all things are regarded with
      equal indifference. It is the LACK of indifference and the level of personal
      attachment that makes detachment work. Detachment is active, apathy
      is passive. Apathy is the uncaring state, detachment is the lover's struggle
      against undue caring. It sets our priorities aright and they need that badly!

      Satan hates monastic life, so different aspects will chafe different
      people; that's his only hope of success. Obedience may not bother one
      who goes off the deep end over chastity. Poverty may be a simple
      cinch for one who can scarcely endure stability.

      Obedience was the victim of a lot of word play in the 60's and 70's.
      One must hope it was all sincere, but it was often misguided.
      Beloveds, if you call it "coordination" or "dialogue" or "consensus"
      you run a terrible risk of referring to a light switch more or less
      perpetually in the off position, or to one which casts light only where we'd
      like it to shine. Alas, we are not usually wise enough to request light
      where we need it most. That must be left to God and God uses obedience.

      Always be wary of euphemism, it can be a harbinger that something is askew.
      Euphemisms often stem from a chip on the shoulder and a chip on
      the shoulder usually means wood higher up- like in the cranial regions!
      When any of those euphemisms actually work, actually intervene in
      one's life dramatically, they do so as obedience, plain and simple.
      One might as well just call the rose a rose! It does smell wondrously
      sweet, but it also has thorns...

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • 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

        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
        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
        Petersham, MA

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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