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