Holy Rule for Oct. 31
Prayers, please, for all the victims of the cholera epidemic in Haiti and for those trying to help them. This is nearly as bad as the earthquake itself was.
Prayers please for a female missing person who left Boston for the Berkshires.
Please pray for Judy, an Oblate. Her time is drawing near to going home, prayers for her happy death. Also prayers are needed for her husband, also an Oblate, her three brothers, her daughter and her son-in-law during this time.
Please pray for Kylia... that the Holy Spirit will enlighten her and that she return to her Church rather than "go it alone".
Prayers, please, for Reed and Lacey as they expect their first child. Lacey is only 18 and feels very unprepared.
Prayers, please, for Laurie, disabled and working three jobs and still below the poverty line, she needs to find a way to finance a sixty dollar car repair so that she can help her mother over 100 miles away.
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
March 1, July 1, October 31
Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be
The measure of excommunication or of chastisement should correspond
to the degree of fault, which degree is estimated by the judgment
of the Abbess.
If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults, let her be excluded
from the common table. Now the program for one deprived of the
company of the table shall be as follows: In the oratory she shall
intone neither Psalm nor antiphon nor shall she recite a lesson
until she has made satisfaction; in the refectory she shall take
her food alone after the community meal,
so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance, that sister
shall eat at the ninth, while if they eat at the ninth hour she
shall eat in the evening, until by a suitable satisfaction she
Let's face it, St. Benedict has a lot to say about excommunication-
a clumsy term, perhaps, because people often assume it means
excommunication from the Church, which is the only sense of the
word we commonly have today. It does not, of course mean that, just
a punishment of exclusion from certain community functions.
Let's face something else, at least in this chapter. Fasting an
extra three hours might not be lovely, but no intoning in choir?
What bad news! Gosh... Even many of us who CAN sing would look at
that as a nice break!
And eating alone? Well, the extra fast wasn't great, but I sure
missed that droning reader and the tedious book we've been reading.
What awful luck!
See the difference in perception a millennium or so can make? That
may be a large part of why the penal code is not followed today:
some of its punishments simply make little sense to modern
monastics, some seem mean, and others (as above,) seem like
The rest of this applies with great ease to family situations,
marital situations and the workplace. Something must be gleaned
from all this legislation for punishment: the one at fault must be
told when something is wrong. That, after all, is the only reason
for punishment, to be a wake up call.
Unfortunately, the monastic hatred of personal confrontation
endemic in our ranks assumes (because it is easiest to do so,)
sufficient brilliance for all to sooner or later figure out that
they are amiss. It just ain't so, folks, sorry! Things fester when
they go ignored
for years. Things that someone should have dealt with gently, but
firmly and even summarily, in formation or childhood, torture the
family in later years.
Look, it is hard, VERY hard, to confront a predictably stubborn or
difficult child or monastic or spouse or employee.
It's easy to see why one would rather not do so. But the Holy Rule
asks many things that are difficult of us, and this one is
for the good of all, both the offender and the offended.
Please take very careful note, however, of the gentleness and real
concern that is essential if such confrontations are to succeed.
Explosive, violent tactics, harsh words and actions at the first
hint of trouble are not the monastic way. There is charity, always
charity first. If we must be sure of that selfless love in ourselves.
Not every correction is morally necessary. When that is the case, we
should often remain silent if we are not loving.
Timing is important, too. Not every day or time is the best time to broach
something difficult. One ought to be careful to avoid instant reactions that
might do little good. One also ought to go to the person alone first, as the
Gospel says. Instant rebukes in the presence of others are not the Gospel's
We must avoid the false charity, (really just cowardice in polite
drag,) that omits making these difficult corrections. It goes a
long way to making everyone's life hellish in the future. Sometimes
that false charity can also be hatred or violence or revenge in
pious disguise, and that is equally terrible, and also goes along
way to making others miserable.
Also, in workplace especially, bear in mind that the authority
figure here is the abbot, not the rank and file. One dare not
assume all those prerogatives as a peer and equal. Fraternal
correction will get a chapter of its own later on, but it is not a
mantle to be assumed lightly. We must beware of the other extreme:
becoming universal policing agents for all and sundry. A tiny spark
of Gestapo flickers in many of our all too human hearts. Do nothing
to fan the flame!
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,