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Holy Rule for Sept. 13

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX This is the reading for Sept. 12th. I accidentally sent the 13th on yesterday and missed the 12th, so here s to catching up. JL January 12, May 13,
    Message 1 of 148 , Sep 12, 2010

      This is the reading for Sept. 12th. I accidentally sent the 13th on yesterday
      and missed the 12th, so here's to catching up. JL

      January 12, May 13, September 12
      Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

      Let her make no distinction of persons in the monastery.
      Let her not love one more than another,
      unless it be one whom she finds better
      in good works or in obedience.
      Let her not advance one of noble birth
      ahead of one who was formerly a slave,
      unless there be some other reasonable ground for it.
      But if the Abbess for just reason think fit to do so,
      let her advance one of any rank whatever.
      Otherwise let them keep their due places;
      because, whether slaves or free, we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28)
      and bear in equal burden of service
      in the army of the same Lord.
      For with God there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2:11).
      Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight:
      if we be found better than others in good works and humility.
      Therefore let the Abbess show equal love to all
      and impose the same discipline on all
      according to their deserts.


      As usual, this is not just for Abbots, but for all of us!!

      Face it, y'all, being human is at once both a thing of ineffable
      potential glory, the free gift of God's Divine Mercy or, left to our
      own devices, precious little more than the rest of the primate family
      we belong to, and often much less! OK, we pulled off food-sharing to
      a degree, but the briefest glimpse at hunger in our world will
      demonstrate that we didn't do such a hot job on that one.

      Then there is speech and cognitive reasoning. Well, these have not been
      unqualified successes of virtue or triumphs of good, either! Sigh....

      Part of that primate heritage in us in a pretty much life-long
      exercise to find where we fit in the hierarchy of the troop. The
      answers to this, true or false, can shape our self-esteem for boon or
      woe, can make us wonderfully well-adjusted or pathetically hobbled by
      crippling senses of inferiority. We could well start with peers, but
      really any deciding factor could enter in: wealth, looks, social
      standing, intelligence, charm. None of them are infallibly truthful.
      Not one.

      Yet, from infancy up, as soon as we begin to relate with other troop
      members, we begin to employ the pointlessly false standards of a
      primate grouping to estimate our own worth and, sadly, that of those around
      us. Should it alarm us that the Gospel and the Holy Rule point us firmly
      away from this nonsense? And it IS nonsense, but it is as rooted in our
      fallen psyches as original sin itself. Holier primates we may hopefully be,
      but there is always that last annoying shred we must be pulling at all the

      For Benedictines, in monastery or world, this whole is affair is
      quite wisely and deliberately overturned completely. There is one
      reason, only one reason for prominence of any kind: good works and
      humility in the eyes of God. The addition of humility to that ideal
      equation means that the people who really *ARE* on top of the pile
      will in no way act as if they are, and, in fact, will probably not be
      treated as such, either!

      Look for the greatest saints in a community most generally at the
      bottom, the ones ignored, discounted, maybe even scorned by
      the "upwardly mobile." You will usually also find them indifferent as
      to their no-clout condition! There is either a holy indifference or a
      firm resignation, but make no mistake, the holiest people in any
      group are usually the ones who are scarcely noticed by the power-
      trippers and are doing nothing at all to seek to control things. They
      live beyond the fringes of all that nonsense. Their Priority has no
      competition from the hollow charms of advancement and He takes very
      good care of them!

      It is a sad truth, but even in monasteries, we sometimes have
      the "upwardly mobile." As annoying as climbers can sometimes be to
      those who live with them, one thing may help lighten the load:
      realizing how terribly pathetic and worthy of pity they are. Whoops!
      They have missed the King and married the crown, no wonder they are
      frustrated! Pray for them: lots!

      For a monastic to seek to climb is all but fatal. Truly, beloveds,
      as the Holy Rule teaches us, we ascend by humility, we descend by
      pride or self-seeking! Much, much more than half of monastic knowing
      is knowing what doesn't matter, and most things don't....seeking to
      control a lot of inconsequential odds and ends will spin your wheels
      and ruin your life.

      Trust me, virtually ALL of the frustrations of my own monastic life stem from
      not knowing or from forgetting what doesn't matter. Don't let the small
      stuff get you down. It is an utter (and terribly annoying and draining!)
      of precious time.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      Prayers for George, needs a heart valve replacement, but is too weak for the surgery. Prayers that he can have the surgery or, should God call him now, for his
      Message 148 of 148 , Jun 22, 2017

        Prayers for George, needs a heart valve replacement, but is too weak for the surgery. Prayers that he can have the surgery or, should God call him now, for his happy death.


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