Holy Rule for Dec. 1
Prayers please, especially Divine Mercy Chaplets, for Fatima, 56, who died Monday of respiratory ailments, for her eternal rest and all who mourn her.
Prayers of the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Larry, getting a pacemaker after years of heart trouble. He also has lung trouble and sleeps with an oxygen tank turned on.
Mark, starting chemotherapy. The surgery got all the cancer, but there were some ominous looking polyps left behind, so the doctors recommended chemo.
Greg, driving home from Texas to California starting tomorrow - 1500 miles is a long way without a cellphone!
Lynne, Chris, and a Priest, all struggling with mental health issues. May God grant them peace of mind and heart, and may He bless all who help them.
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
April 1, August 1, December 1
Chapter 50: On Sisters Who are Working Far From the Oratory or Are on
Those sisters who are working at a great distance
and cannot get to the oratory at the proper time --
the Abbess judging that such is the case --
shall perform the Work of God
in the place where they are working,
bending their knees in reverence before God.
Likewise those who have been sent on a journey
shall not let the appointed Hours pass by,
but shall say the Office by themselves as well as they can
and not neglect to render the task of their service.
Look, if you think your marriage vows take a powder while you're
traveling on business, chances are a lot of people pity your spouse.
There are jobs that we do not carry with us. We are not surgeons,
welders or toll booth ticket-takers at home- at least hopefully! But
marriage is not a job, it's a vocation and so is monastic life.
Vocations stay with one everywhere, at all times and places. One is
ALWAYS a spouse, always a parent, always a monastic.
Hey, it is World AIDS Day, and there are a lot of similarities
between monasticism done right and HIV. I should know- I've been HIV+
for nearly 22 years and a monk for nearly 19. For rather crass starters,
both get in your blood and if they do, there is no cure! Done right,
both are always with you. Since my diagnosis, even in my dreams,
I am always HIV+, never once have I dreamed of my current self
otherwise. I wish I could say exactly the same of monasticism, but
even there, my dreams that are not flashbacks are most usually about
Jerome, not my secular name, Phil!
Writ large across my heart are the letters "HIV" and I am still
working on making "OSB" stand out in equally high relief there! At
some point, if we are lucky, we realize that our vocation really is
who we've become.
Virus and vows! Believe me, there were times I wished I had neither, but I
always have both! Most of the time, I am glad of that, in very mysterious
ways, mysteriously grateful for both. In my case, at least, neither
would have been my totally free first choice, but they are undeniably
where God has placed me and both have done me a world of good, most
often through their hassles, but also through their ordinary days!
I would not give up what either has taught me for anything in the world.
We live in a secular society that urges us to follow our dreams.
Well, m'dears, I have swooned at the poetry in that one for more
decades than I care to admit, but it ain't always true. Why on earth
should we ascribe an infallibility to our own dreams that we are
unwilling under any but the most exceptionally extreme circumstances
to apply to anyone else? Whoops! There's a real passing chance our
dreams may be wrong, may have to be given up. I am living proof to
myself that fighting that surrender is terribly hard and just as
useless. Yes, choice often enters into whom we become, but not
always, and sometimes the things that become us are the ones we quite
pointedly have NOT chosen.
Many of us do not choose what life hands us. Some do not choose to be
parents, some choose one spouse only to find that person changes
horrifically later on and nobody in their right mind chooses to
become HIV+. Many, many things are in some ways forced upon us, but
those things can become fully graced things of wonder, if only we let
God work. If only we would trust Him... His Divine Mercy will triumph
over all, but we must trust Him. He knows, after all, what He is doing!
We often can only see His work in hindsight, looking back.
Love and prayers,
Jerome Leo, OSB
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Pluscarden Abbey, on the feast of St. Andrew, one of its patrons, and for all of Scotland, whose patron is also St. Andrew.
On this last day of November, please remember the Holy Souls, the whole month is dedicated to prayer for them, and remember to pray for them throughout the year! Ask them to intercede for you, too, they are great friends to have and they are so very grateful to us for our prayers and help for them.
Prayers for the safety all the people, property, buildings and animals threatened by extreme fires in Tennessee. Many fires are being fought, prayers for those fighting them and trying to help.
Prayers for the people of Mosul and Aleppo, and for all in danger and crisis from fighting and war in these areas.
Prayers for Ann, who has a possible detached retina, that it can be treated successfully. She is also praying to accept God’s will, whatever that may be. The troubled retina is in the better of her eyes, so retaining vision there is very important.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Andrew and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the recovery of the 11 injured in the Ohio State University attack, one of whom is critical. Prayers, too, for the repentance and conversion of the attacker, who was killed, and prayers for his eternal rest and for the families of all.
Prayers for Val, who fell and broke her hip. She is recovering from surgery but is not doing well with uncontrolled blood pressure and is in ICU. Also prayers for her family.
Prayers for Ron, for whom we've prayed, who had open heart surgery postponed. His condition is not great and this surgery needs to happen as soon as possible.
Prayers for Chiara's return to the Church. She is doing so much helping others that she doesn't need to look far to discover Christ's presence in those she helps.
Prayers for Bev and Erika. They are Jehovah's Witnesses. Prayers that they discover the fullness of the faith and truth in the Catholic Church. Also that Bev finds full time work soon.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent. Alleluia!
Thanks so much. JL
March 31, July 31, November 30
Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent
Although the life of a monk
ought to have about it at all times
the character of a Lenten observance,
yet since few have the virtue for that,
we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
the brethren keep their lives most pure
and at the same time wash away during these holy days
all the negligences of other times.
And this will be worthily done
if we restrain ourselves from all vices
and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.
During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
"with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.
From his body, that is
he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
and with the joy of spiritual desire
he may look forward to holy Easter.
Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
what it is that he wants to offer,
and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
and will merit no reward.
Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.
Because we read St. Benedict's 1500 year old Holy Rule with modern
eyes, it often seems harsh. To balance our perspective, we need to
see the radical nature of the Rule when written. Face it, folks, this
was most definitely a gentler Rule for European wannabes who could
never hack it in the Egyptian desert in their wildest dreams. His
introductory paragraph points out his plan of adaptation: "...since
few have the virtue for that..." Our founder was most certainly writing
for the struggling plodders of monasticism and he knew it. Keeping
that uppermost in our minds can be informatively humbling.
St. Benedict's fatherly heart was
with the underdogs, the also rans, the strays and those that others
could not be bothered with. He must have felt at some point that
there HAD to be a way for the spiritually challenged to become
monastics. A millennium and a half later, we are still benefiting
from his attempts.
Hence, for us Benedictines, when the Evil One tempts us with his lies
like: "You could never do that! You could never be THAT holy!"
our reaction must be to ignore him totally. We have no clue
of how holy we can be. God alone knows that and God alone will lead
us and show us in ways we are quite unlikely to ever understand.
Whenever the demon of discouragement tells us we are far beneath this
Rule for beginners, we must shrug indifferently and move on, briefly
impressed for once with the Father of Lies' firm grasp on the obvious.
Of *COURSE* we are beneath this Rule, beneath any of the earlier
ones. Duh?!? We're Benedictines. Our Order was founded for people
like us. That should never, ever be a cause to stop trying, to give
up or quit. On the contrary, that fact should be a heartening
confirmation that we are EXACTLY where we belong, in the best
possible remedial education program for slow learners like us, right
where God wants us.
Like a mother to a crying child, devoid of hope, who moans "But I
CAN'T, I just can't!" St. Benedict is softly saying, "Well,
just do what you can and that will be OK." Get the picture? OK! Then
go out, play nice and do what you can today... Don't be surprised if
you find that God is increasing, sometimes imperceptibly, that "what
you can" little by little to heights of great holiness, which we will
achieve all but unawares and only with His help. Someday, we really
SHALL "run in the way...with hearts enlarged."
Love and prayers,