Holy Rule for May 25
Prayers, please, for our Fr. Bede on his feastday and for all the Bedes out there. Graces galore and many years, ad multos annos.
Prayers, please, for Donna, may her car trouble be minor, as she cannot afford another catastrophic repair bill and needs her car to get to work.
Julie B's grandmother is home from the hospital. She had a mild heart attack with no damage to the cardiac muscles. Deo Gratias!
Also Deo gratias for Vince, his Oblate journey is progressing.
Please pray for Arjahn, recently married to a woman from another country. he is trying to bring her home but is facing opposition from immigration authorities.
Prayers for Kelly's mom, in the hospital for cellulitis.
Continued prayers, please, for Tonja, Chris and Seamus. Your prayers are helping but these are really seriously chronic conditions showing Satan in action.
Prayers, please. for improved relationships between Iran and the US.
Prayers for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the restoration of the environment.
Deo gratias for all prayers of the past.
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 24, May 25, September 24
Chapter 6: On the Spirit of Silence
Let us do what the Prophet says:
"I said, 'I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue.
I have set a guard to my mouth.'
I was mute and was humbled,
and kept silence even from good things" (Ps. 38:2-3).
Here the Prophet shows
that if the spirit of silence ought to lead us at times
to refrain even from good speech,
so much the more ought the punishment for sin
make us avoid evil words.
Therefore, since the spirit of silence is so important,
permission to speak should rarely be granted
even to perfect disciples,
even though it be for good, holy edifying conversation;
for it is written,
"In much speaking you will not escape sin" (Prov. 10:19),
and in another place,
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21).
For speaking and teaching belong to the mistress;
the disciple's part is to be silent and to listen.
And for that reason
if anything has to be asked of the Superior,
it should be asked
with all the humility and submission inspired by reverence.
But as for coarse jests and idle words
or words that move to laughter,
these we condemn everywhere with a perpetual ban,
and for such conversation
we do not permit a disciple to open her mouth.
Words, even kind words, are not always a blessing. In the absence of
silence, basically meaningless rituals of speech may actually serve
as distancers, shorthand acknowledgement of the other(s) with the
unspoken agreement that "Sufficient, token attention has been paid, now
leave me alone!" I'm not saying all such rituals are empty, they
aren't, but most of us have a few that really could be examined.
When we are alone is the best and easiest time to cultivate silence.
Turn off the car radio, temporarily (or even permanently!) kill your
television. Switch on the answer phone and turn the volume down.
Examine all the areas where you have added noise you truly do not
Why? Because noise is usually added as distraction, and
distraction is what the monastic doesn't want. We don't want our focus
scattered, because our work is to be looking at the very unlovely things
in our deepest self that distraction helps us deny or ignore. We have a
lifelong self-scrutiny and that requires a lot of dumping the stuff people
generally employ to avoid such truthful self-confrontation.
Even boredom- another reason we add noise- can be trotted out under
its old monastic name of "accidie" and teach us lots. In the desert of boredom,
one can confront the lackluster self! No wonder we don't like it!
Some family church experimentation might be possible, but NEVER push
others into your choice of monastic style. It will do them and you a
great disservice. Anything attempted here must be done with consent
of all and without being doctrinaire, especially if there are
children involved. Do you really want to run the Villa von Trapp the
way the Captain did?? I hope not...
With those precautions, here's a suggestion or two for family/spouse
silence. You might try a sort of "grand silence" in the morning, say
just until after the first cup of coffee or so. This would be welcome
to many who'd just as soon not speak in the AM anyhow. But don't
leave it at silence. Remember those ritual phrases of affection or
acknowledgment I spoke about? Learn to do them without words, with
the eyes, with a smile, with a touch.
Married Benedictines can err in the translation of monastic styles
into their own lives on the side of celibacy. Hey, all Benedictines
include a LOT of married people. For them, the celibate restraint is
removed. An affectionate kiss or caress without words can often
convey volumes of love that a clichéd "Good morning, dear." does not.
We can blush at our own emotions, use words to cover them and our own
embarrassment. Try- for however brief a time- to express all you feel
without words. I think you'll be impressed.
With children involved, great care must be taken and often silence
foresworn altogether. Always remember that one's children and spouse
have a higher moral claim on one's vocation than Oblation does. The
will of God will come to you more clearly through your marriage or
parenthood than it will from any secondary source, including the Holy
If, and only if, children are willing to enter into a period of
silence each day, for them, make it short. We are dealing, as you
well know, with antsy kids and short attention spans. They're
SUPPOSED to be that way: respect it. Suggestion? What about 5 minutes
of taped reading at dinner? What about doing the cleanup in silence
with smiles? What about trying either just for Lent?
Be prepared for your efforts to fail. Not everyone can do these
things. If the experiment doesn't work, DROP IT at once. Never, ever
force your own vocation down the throats of others. Always remember
that there is great asceticism in the acceptance of noise we wish we
could avoid. Always remember that there is a hermitage of deep peace
and serenity in every heart, but you must build it with God's help.
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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