Holy Rule for Oct. 30
Prayers for Fr. Santana, 48, murdered in Brazil, for his eternal rest and for the repentance of whoever killed him.
Prayers please for a successful and faith filled Regional Oblate Gathering
at St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow, VA this Saturday, October 30th. For
the community of sisters who are hosting, especially for Sr. Connie Ruth and
Sr. Charlotte who were in that horrible car accident over the summer, may
they be blessed.
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
Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults
If a brother is found to be obstinate, or disobedient, or proud, or
murmuring, or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15). If he fails to amend, let him
be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community. But if
even then he does not reform, let him be placed under
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty; if he
is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.
Calm down, folks! Nobody uses corporal punishment any more, though
I can tell you that its use in certain cases has often been a
daydreaming temptation! It's worth noting that, for most people,
such daydreams always chuckle at the thought of someone ELSE getting
corporal punishment, not themselves! Sigh... Me included.
While some today may chafe at these chapters, known as the penal
code of the Holy Rule, believe me, the modern problem is NOT that
they are too stringently enforced. Quite the opposite. The
Benedictine atmosphere of gentle moderation can cloak and empower a
lot of timidity and cowardice, too. Neither are very loving,
they're just useful means of avoidance.
Not all love is tough love, but all love IS tough. When a parent or
boss or superior chooses their own comfort by avoiding
confrontation with a problem member, everyone suffers. Those in
authority are called to love, and love leaves no stone unturned, not
even those that are horribly difficult to lift.
Most of us can think of far too many examples of timid authority
failures in families and workplaces. One probably cannot change the
people in charge that effect such negligence. One ought to bravely
try, but it often doesn't work. One can moan a lot about it, but
that gets to murmuring in no time and is also counter-productive.
The message here for all of us is "Look at your own choir stall",
which is a Benedictine way of saying "Mind your own business and
examine your conscience."
If you are in authority, or get there
someday, don't be a flop or an unloving wimp. If you are not in
charge, don't make yourself one of the problems. It is terribly
hard for rank and file to ignore what seemingly ought not to be
ignored, but sometimes we simply have to do so or leave. That is one
of the VERY great ascetic disciplines of common life. Believe me,
fasting pales to nothing beside this one. I'd rather fast any day!
Over the years I have heard excuses close to whining from people in
all areas of authority: political, ecclesiastical, parental,
monastic and administrative. "Nothing can be done about so-and-so.
My hands are tied." I hate to say that I remain unable to
completely buy that,
largely because sometimes I've been around long enough to see a
successor (or the courts!) DO something about so-and-so. My own time
as list owner of Monastic Life taught me that deciding to do
something can heap tons of abuse on one's head, but something often
can be done.
Monastics come to the Holy Rule for the benefit of discipline and
growth and guidance toward holiness. We have a right to same, and
no one should have to know that only for the most flagrant of abuses
will he or she get it. St. Benedict points us toward the "bonum
obedientiae", the good, the gift of obedience.
That means that, for Benedictines, there must be something much more
than mere non- intervention. There has to be someone on the rudder.
There has to be something more stable than the ever-changing weather
vanes of consensus or self-will. Micro managing is a
terrible fault, but no management at all is far worse in many ways.
BOTH extremes are to be avoided. Virtue stands in the middle: virtus
in media stat!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for all Canadians celebrating Thanksgiving, and special prayers for Mary and her sisters, on the first Thanksgiving after their Mom’s death. Prayers, too, for the eternal rest of Margaret, their Mom.
Prayers for our monks and nuns of Petersham, we are having our annual retreat this week. Prayers, too, for Abbot Matthew, former abbot of St. Anselm’s in Manchester, New Hampshire, who is our retreatmaster. May the Holy Spirit fill us all.
Deo gratias and prayers of thanks, Johnny, for whom we prayed before his quadruple bypass surgery, has gone home from the hospital and all is well.
Prayers for Anneclaire, for healing of damage done by violent abuse in her past which is hurting her relationships today. May God heal all the wounds of her past.
Prayers for Jenny R., just diagnosed with malignant nodular melanoma, a very aggressive form of skin cancer. She will find out what stage it is and if its spread to other parts of her body soon. Prayers that it hasn’t spread and that it can be treated successfully.
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
[This portion seems to beg for division into two parts, so I have done
that in the reflection.]
February 9, June 10, October 10
Chapter 7: On Humility
The twelfth degree of humility
is that a monk not only have humility in his heart
but also by his very appearance make it always manifest
to those who see him.
That is to say that whether he is at the Work of God,
in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road,
in the fields or anywhere else,
and whether sitting, walking or standing,
he should always have his head bowed
and his eyes toward the ground.
Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment,
he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment
and constantly say in his heart
what the publican in the Gospel said
with his eyes fixed on the earth:
"Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven"
(Luke 18:13; Matt. 8:8);
and again with the Prophet:
"I am bowed down and humbled everywhere" (Ps. 37:7,9; 118:107).
Alcoholics Anonymous jokes about what they call "Two-steppers," that
is, people who decide to jump right from Step 1, acknowledging their
problem, to Step 12, carrying the message to others, with nothing in
between! Wrong! Doesn't work that way...
We sometimes see a similar mistake in folks and humility.
Bingo, they go right to the twelfth degree with nothing to build
their external humility on but the images of Hollywood. Such
individuals are usually well-intentioned enough, but one look at
their demeanor will tell one that there is probably a very badly worn
tape of "The Nun's Story"!
I'm not knocking the film, I loved it, too! But it WAS Hollywood and it
is not real life! Monastic life will do a lot of things but sorry, it will
you Audrey Hepburn!
People who learn that have a chance to stay, people who don't often
leave because no monastery fits the Hollywood model, though they
often keep looking for one that does!
Second Section of the Reading:
Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore,
the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God
which casts out fear.
And all those precepts
which formerly he had not observed without fear,
he will now begin to keep by reason of that love,
without any effort,
as though naturally and by habit.
No longer will his motive be the fear of hell,
but rather the love of Christ,
and delight in the virtues
which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit
in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.
This crucially important second part is why none of those Hollywood
roles quite make it AND why the first section is spared from
Jansenism. (Jansenism, you may recall, was a heresy which held that
we could NEVER be worthy, NEVER do enough penance and so forth. In
its sad extremes, it harked to a sort of Pelagian attitude, implying
that we might be able to do something if we did enough harsh stuff!
But, of course, even that would never be enough. It was a rather mean
idea of God.)
Humility is NOT affected, not presupposing, hence efforts to LOOK
humble when one is not so will fall woefully short of the mark. No
Academy Awards for this one! When they call for the envelope, it will
Genuine humility is the most unself-conscious thing in the
world. It produces the external demeanor without any further ado,
because the person actually (and usually unwittingly!) BECOMES the
truth they are striving to live. Humility shows up in the face, in
everything, just as years of bitterness or years of love often do.
You couldn't hide humility if you wanted to, but you don't need to,
because the true humility is rarely even noticed and those who are
less humble tend to discount the really humble as nobodies. In one
sense, they are quite right! Both would agree on that!
If one never gets to the joy and love of the end of this passage,
there will be no reason not to look artificially rather glum over
sins that one probably doesn't believe at heart are that great anyhow.
This is where some folks miss the mark. They can stop at the
perpetual gloom and dread point, without realizing the contemplative
joy and love beyond that.
Monasticism is true, but the Gospel is more so. Neither Jansenism nor
perpetual gloom would play very well with Matthew, Mark, Luke or
John. That means they wouldn't play well with St. Benedict, either,
as his second portion surely guarantees. Love and joy and humility
are an inseparable trio! When fear is cast out, gloom goes right
along with it!
Love and prayers,