Holy Rule for Nov. 28
Prayers for the eternal rest of the following, for all their families and all who mourn them:
Abbot Francis Sadlier, OSB, of St. Leo, on the anniversary of his death.
Father Bernardo Muniz Rabelo Amaral, a 28-year-old priest who was ordained less than three months ago was killed last week in Brazil. The apparent motive was robbery. Prayers, too, for his murderer(s) repentance.
Manuela Camagni, an assistant to Pope Benedict XVI. She was killed in a car accident.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Betty, on her 94th birthday, happiness and grace and blessings!.
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 30, July 30, November 29
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
On Sundays, let all occupy themselves in reading,
except those who have been appointed to various duties.
But if anyone should be so negligent and shiftless
that she will not or cannot study or read,
let her be given some work to do
so that she will not be idle.
Weak or sickly sisters should be assigned a task or craft
of such a nature as to keep them from idleness
and at the same time not to overburden them or drive them away
with excessive toil.
Their weakness must be taken into consideration by the Abbess.
The greatest mentor in my monastic life was Brother Patrick Creamer,
OSB, of St. Leo Abbey in Florida, who died in September, 2004,
nearly 90. I learned more from Patrick than I have from any other monk. He had
more influence on my life than any man other than my father. Say a prayer
for him. My debt to him is great and much of what I pass on to you I received
from Patrick first. I have long hoped that even in the slightest and most
occasional of ways, I could be a Patrick now and then to someone else.
Years ago, Brother Patrick told me: "Never judge yourself by others-
there will always be people who will do more than you and people who
do less." There's a very obvious corollary to that maxim: never judge
others by yourself, either! I have struggled for years to learn both.
I still have not succeeded, but I keep trying. Every time I remember
those words I am shamed at how many more times I forget them. I hope
and pray all of you are much better students of life than I am!
The Abbot is not the only one who has to see, really see weakness and
allow for it. All of us do. That's what it means to bear one
another's burdens as well as we can. If and when so-and-so finally
gets their act together, it is highly unlikely that they will be an
exact clone of someone so utterly perfect as ourselves! We can be so
self-centered that we unwittingly actually expect that to happen. If
we stop to look at how ludicrous such a thing is, we'll have to
laugh, because if we didn't, we'd cry.
God made individuals, tons of them. Their optimal state is going to
be just as individual, just as different , one from another. Hey,
that's the beauty of the mosaic, which would, after all, have all the
charm of a tiled floor if all the pieces were the same color and
It is not just the weakness of others we have to see. We have to see
our own, as well. How many people there are who may be
thinking: "When Jerome gets his ducks in a row, he'll be just like me."
Sorry, y'all. Ain't gonna happen, no more than you all are going to wind up (God
forbid!) looking frighteningly like me. Strengths and weakness are
the only tools we have to work with. If we don't even see them, they
won't be much good.
I confess that I do not know 10% of what my computer can do. I'll
probably never know most of its ability. That's often the case with
computers, but how tragic it is if we allow that to happen with
ourselves. That's why the monastic struggle points us to even deeper
self-examination, self-knowledge and humility.
Hey, a hard drive is neither here nor there in many senses, but a
human soul needs a LOT of disk scanning and defragmentation. There'd
better be a good anti-virus program, too, as well as lots of extra
memory! Fortunately, these things cost nowhere near what software
does. They were all bought for us at a tremendous price. Just ask the
One Who did that and He'll give you all the free downloads you could
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,