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Holy Rule for Oct. 30

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX 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
    Message 1 of 57 , Oct 29, 2010
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      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,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

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    • 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

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