Holy Rule for May 24
Prayers of great thanks and Deo grtias for Carol and John, on their 35th wedding anniversary. Ad multos annos, many more! Also, Caorl asks prayers for some special intentions.
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
January 23, May 24, September 23
Chapter 5: On Obedience
But this very obedience
will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all
only if what is commanded is done
without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection.
For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God,
since He Himself has said,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will,
for "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).
For if the disciple obeys with an ill will
not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart,
then even though he fulfill the command
yet his work will not be acceptable to God,
who sees that his heart is murmuring.
And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this,
he will incur the punishment due to murmurers,
unless he amend and make satisfaction.
It is our hearts that convict us in obedience. Not because of
feelings or emotions, those can be mistaken, but because of the
relationship between love and will. Many of us have loved someone and
hated having to do something that the love required, but we did it
anyway. Our feelings or repugnance were over-ruled by the will in our
hearts to love. Face it, love does not ALWAYS feel too good, which is
a principal way it differs from mere feelings.
Jean Ronan, one of my favorite teachers used to tell me to always make all
decisions "in the light of the death candle", that is, as if one were about to
die. How hearing that annoyed me at 30, but how true it is, and the closer one
gets to the possibility of that death candle, the truer it is. There's a handy
rule of thumb here. Does our choice put God and our faith first, no matter what?
If it does not, something is terribly wrong.
There is also the trust of faith involved here. God is God and we must firmly
believe He will do the best for us, no matter how unclear that may sometimes be.
Jesus often told St. Faustina to ask her superiors for permissions, hard
permissions, to do this or that extra prayer or mortification, that He KNEW they
would refuse. Then, after the refusal, He would tell Faustina that
her obedience meant more to Him than the thing denied.
He also said to her that all creatures do His will, whether they want
to not or, whether they know it or not. Now there's a hefty order!
Still when we look at St. Paul's remark that, "for those who love
God, all things work together for good," this is not at all far-fetched.
St. Paul did not say "all wise things", or "well-intentioned things", or
"cooperative things". He said "all" and he was inspired to say that by
the Holy Spirit.
"All things".....hmmmm. There is a mystical point where the will of God
cannot be thwarted. This is evident in the lives of many saints. When Jesus
told them nothing could harm them, He wasn't just kidding around! In spite
of seemingly insuperable odds, His will for them would triumph again and
again. But this is NOT just for saints: it is true for all of us! Obedience
throws us into the vortex of that, but it gets easier as our faith
(and experience of God's goodness!) deepens.
We have been too ready to think that obedience depends only on
humans, who are flawed. It doesn't. All obedience is given to God.
Our love and trust and His love and mercy are the deciding factors,
not the universally flawed human weakness that plagues every human
means of God's will in this world.
Want a little theological aside here? Look at what this concept of
all doing His will does to the concept of sin. It makes it the ULTIMATE rip-off.
If, even when we try to thwart God, we further His plans (and face it, He
*IS* clever enough to pull that off,) then we are left with absolutely nothing
but the bitter ashes of our own useless self- defeat. With Him or against Him,
His kingdom will nevertheless come. What a tragedy to have been nothing
more than a futile obstacle to that!
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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