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Holy Rule for Nov. 3

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Some newer and more tragic numbers have emerged from the Baghdad Syrian Catholic Cathedral hostage taking: 37 are dead, including all of the attackers,
    Message 1 of 57 , Nov 2, 2010
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      Some newer and more tragic numbers have emerged from the Baghdad Syrian Catholic Cathedral hostage taking: 37 are dead, including all of the attackers, one of whom activated a suicide bomb, and 56 wounded. Hopefully no more will be added to the killed list, which alas, includes three priests who were celebrating the Liturgy. Prayers for them all and for the brave libertors who stormed the Church to end the crisis.

      Prayers for Meredith, Jared and Jordan who are preparing for Confirmation. May the Holy Spirit touch them and lead them!

      Prayers for the eternl rest of Maureen, who passed away suddenly on the Feast of All Saints. Bless her and her family who are in mourning.

      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 4, July 4, November 3
      Chapter 27: How Solicitous the Abbot Should Be for the

      Let the Abbot be most solicitous in his concern for delinquent
      brethren, for "it is not the healthy but the sick who need a
      physician" (Matt 9:12) And therefore he ought to use every means
      that a wise physician would use. Let him send senpectae, that is,
      brethren of mature years and wisdom, who may as it were secretly
      console the wavering brother
      and induce him to make humble satisfaction; comforting him that he
      may not "be overwhelmed by excessive grief" (2 Cor. 2:7), but that,
      as the Apostle says, charity may be strengthened in him (2 Cor.
      2:8). And let everyone pray for him.

      For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude and exercise all
      prudence and diligence
      lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him. Let him know that
      what he has undertaken is the care of weak souls and not a tyranny
      over strong ones; and let him fear the Prophet's warning through
      which God says, "What you saw to be fat you took to yourselves, and
      what was feeble you cast away" (Ezec. 34:3,4). Let him rather
      imitate the loving example of the Good Shepherd who left the ninety-
      nine sheep in the mountains
      and went to look for the one sheep that had gone astray, on whose
      weakness He had such compassion that He deigned to place it on His
      own sacred shoulders and thus carry it back to the flock (Luke 15:4-


      This is the chapter that makes the entire penal code (as it is
      usually termed,) of the Holy Rule clear. Drop this one and it DOES
      become mean. The Abbot (or parent or teacher or boss or spouse,) is
      actually called to exercise super concern for the fallen. Hence, it
      is clear that the whole purpose of punishment in the Holy Rule is
      only to heal, to reform. It is an action of great hope, not a cop
      out of exclusion, not simply writing a person off because of the
      difficulties presented.

      How often do we "punish" another, or even ourselves, as a means of
      write-off, of abdication of our responsibility to love? Both the
      Gospel and St. Benedict teach us that is wrong, it is not a
      Christian response and not at all the way we should "conveniently"
      unload ourselves of a troubled human being in our lives.

      All of us charged with the care of others must pay close attention
      to this chapter. It is so easy to love the "perfect" child or the
      whiz kid student. It is so easy to heap acceptance and confident
      affirmation on the types of employees who least need it, while the
      strugglers and the strays have their feelings of inferiority
      confirmed. People of any age quite often stoop to the level that
      others expect of them. We must offer them the best chance we can to
      do and be all that they can.

      The world will offer all the empty praise that is necessary to the
      successful. It is the shallow way of the world to do so. Christians
      and monastics, however, are called to be OTHER than the world.
      There has to be something topsy-turvy in the way we love that
      becomes puzzlingly apparent. We have to love the underdog, even
      when the underdog is driving us slowly nuts. This doesn't mean we
      don't love the holy and good ones, it means we never, never fail to
      love the plodders. It means that we always remember that we are
      in many ways ourselves.

      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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