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Holy Rule for Oct. 28

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX 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 27, June
    Message 1 of 57 , Oct 27, 2010
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      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 27, June 28, October 28
      Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery

      If the community is a large one, let there be chosen out of it
      brethren of good repute and holy life, and let them be appointed
      deans. These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,
      observing the commandments of God and the instructions of their

      Let men of such character be chosen deans that the Abbot may with
      share his burdens among them. Let them be chosen not by rank but
      according to their worthiness of life and the wisdom of their

      If any of these deans should become inflated with pride and found
      deserving of censure,
      let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time. If he will
      not amend, then let him be deposed and another be put in his place
      who is worthy of it.

      And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.


      St. Benedict reverences seniority- a traditional monastic value- in
      many places, but he also moderates that tradition, keeping it from
      turning into ageism. When considering the appointment of these
      deans, their worthy lives and teachings are the criteria, not their
      age. Unspoken here, but nevertheless evident, is the demand that seniors
      obey such young officials.

      There is no room for griping about young "whipper-snappers" here!
      Obedience is not about the age or wisdom or human perfection of the
      superior. It is about faith that God leads us through such flawed
      human beings of every sort. When "X" crosses you or breaks your
      heart or stokes your anger, it is imperative to recall that this
      often has precious little to do with "X" and his or her
      personality. It's is God's gift to your self-study. He wants you to
      learn something about yourself and tests you. "X" might not even be
      faintly aware of being used as an instrument of His will!
      (Recalling this all the time is a LOT harder than it sounds, for some a
      lifelong struggle.)

      A further check here is given by the insistence on personal
      holiness. Granted, even in monasteries, the clever and
      manipulatively ambitious sort can get around this and sometimes do,
      but what if all our offices, in monastery AND Church went to really
      holy people? The first objection (usually put forward by the
      ambitious who would be overlooked under this system!) is that they
      would be TERRIBLE administrators. So? The point there was what?

      Next time you want a fun day-dream, try to picture a Church and
      Order run entirely by the holy and wise. Wow! Now usually, day-
      dreaming is an utter waste of time, but this one is not. After you
      have spent some time envisioning all those things, go out and BE
      what you
      dreamed. Truly live as if the dream had come to pass. Be prepared
      to be a little lonely: none of us are likely soon to see a Church
      run entirely by saints. But we can all make that dream one person
      closer to coming true, by changing ourselves, by incarnating that
      ideal as best we can. The only ones we can surely change are

      Of course, there will be loud complaints about saints in charge,
      too. For one thing, as Dorothy Day observed, saints can be terribly
      hard to live with. For another, the problem is our lack of faith,
      a problem even good governance will not remove. Only we can remove
      problem. It starts with us!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX ******Somehow I skipped Nov. 28 and ran the 30th yesterday, so here s the reading for the 28th to catch up. March 29, July 29, November 28 Chapter 48: On
      Message 57 of 57 , Nov 28, 2010
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        ******Somehow I skipped Nov. 28 and ran the 30th yesterday, so here's the
        reading for the 28th to catch up.

        March 29, July 29, November 28
        Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

        From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
        let them apply themselves to reading
        up to the end of the second hour.

        At the second hour let Terce be said,
        and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
        At the first signal for the Hour of None
        let everyone break off from her work,
        and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
        After the meal
        let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.

        On the days of Lent,
        from morning until the end of the third hour
        let them apply themselves to their reading,
        and from then until the end of the tenth hour
        let them do the work assigned them.
        And in these days of Lent
        they shall each receive a book from the library,
        which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
        These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.

        But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
        to go about the monastery
        at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
        and see that there be no lazy sister
        who spends her time in idleness or gossip
        and does not apply herself to the reading,
        so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
        but also distracts others.
        If such a one be found (which God forbid),
        let her be corrected once and a second time;
        if she does not amend,
        let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
        in such a way that the rest may take warning.

        Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
        at inappropriate times.


        Lectio divina, sacred reading, is the Benedictine form of
        contemplation, more ancient than many later forms, both Carmelite and
        Athonite. Being so ancient, it comes with very few directions. Much
        of its "method" has been developed and handed down by monastics over
        the centuries since St. Benedict.

        Even in that embellished form, it remains a very, very simple and
        efficient means to contemplative prayer. One simply reads Scripture
        or the Fathers (or Mothers!) slowly, reflectively, ruminating (like a
        cow chewing its cud!) on each word and verse. As St. Romuald later
        observed, one waits like a chick for whatever its mother gives it.

        One does not read to get through the book. One reads to see if and
        when the Holy Spirit calls us to higher prayer with a word or phrase
        that strikes the heart. At that point, one should follow one's heart
        and not worry about finishing the page! Cleared for takeoff!

        It is interesting that St. Benedict weaves all these schedules of
        contemplative reading and prayer together with his manual labor
        concerns, without any ado. There's another example of the dignity and
        holiness of work in a Benedictine theology. Our work, too, is prayer.
        It must be.

        We must, somehow, learn to be all prayer. That same
        ruminative mindfulness that colors our lectio must color our labor as
        well. It is a different form of attention, a different form of
        prayer, but it is prayer nonetheless! Just ask any gardener or cook
        with a mystical heart or, for that matter, any toilet cleaner or
        diaper changer of the same ilk!

        The Carmelites prescribe mental prayer, which should, with
        recollection, spread throughout one's day. The hesychasts of Mount
        Athos, Romania and Russia stress the Jesus Prayer, said vocally until
        it becomes automatic in the heart at all times. Both of these are
        more explicit methodologies, but the Benedictine aim is the same:
        prayer without ceasing, prayer in choir and garden and cell, prayer
        at reading and prayer at work. Mindfulness of God at all times is the
        contemplative goal of all these systems.

        This is just my own opinion, but I am inclined to think that the
        Dominican concept of contemplation comes closest to our own, largely
        because of their love of study. Study, for the Dominican, is often
        very similar to lectio in the Benedictine scheme of things. Why?
        Because the Dominican seeks Truth, and Jesus said: "I am the Truth."
        A Dominican could be reading virtually anything and still know that
        every bit
        of real, objective truth garnered from that reading would be yet
        another shard, no matter how small, in the infinite mosaic of the
        face of Christ. That is a mosaic none of us shall ever complete in
        this life, but oh, how much more familiar He shall seem to us when we
        meet Him because of it!

        Maybe I'm just prejudiced, but I think that a Dominican education,
        such as I had, is a wonderful preparation for Benedictine life.

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome, OSB
        Petersham, MA

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