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
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Prayers for Fr. E., discerning a vocation to religious life.
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 11, August 11, December 11
Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters
When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
let her not be granted an easy entrance;
but, as the Apostle says,
"Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
and if it is seen after four or five days
that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
and the difficulty of admission,
and that she persists in her petition,
then let entrance be granted her,
and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.
After that let her live in the novitiate,
where the novices study, eat and sleep.
A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
to watch over them with the utmost care.
Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
and whether she is zealous
for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
by which the journey to God is made.
If she promises stability and perseverance,
then at the end of two months
let this rule be read through to her,
and let her be addressed thus:
"Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
If you can observe it, enter;
if you cannot, you are free to depart."
If she still stands firm,
let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
and again tested in all patience.
And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
that she may know on what she is entering.
And if she still remains firm,
after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.
Then, having deliberated with herself,
if she promises to keep it in its entirety
and to observe everything that is commanded,
let her be received into the community.
But let her understand that,
according to the law of the Rule,
from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
which she was free to refuse or to accept
during that prolonged deliberation.
The most important thing that St. Benedict asks of all of us on
entrance into the monastic way is whether we truly seek God. Whether
Abbot Primate or newest Oblate novice, that is what we are asked by
the Holy Rule. It is a question we shall be asked for the rest of our
lives, and one to which we must strive (and often struggle!) to say yes,
again and again, day after day.
"Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we
have found." In truth a certain "finding" of God is necessary to whet
our appetite, to lead us to seek Him more deeply. Once that happens,
however, we can go on seeking God for the rest of time and eternity
and never get to the end of His infinite love and mercy. Even in
heaven the journey will go on, with us always being creature and Him
always loving Creator. We will never end our quest, but we will love
it, we will never reach the essence of God, but that will never
frustrate us in heaven. It's an adventure we shall love.
If we do not seek God, there is no point whatever in becoming a monastic.
St. Bernard once said something to the effect that, if one is going to go to
hell, one should choose the broad way of the world, where at least there
is comfort of a sort on the way, not the narrow way of the monastery, where
one would go from hard life to hell. I haven't paraphrased him too well, but
I hope it is clear enough. No one should waste time with monastic life if
are not seeking God, seeking to go deeper into Him. To do so would be
After novitiate, our commitment to conversion of manners obliges us to
ever seek, to ever try to improve, to never give up the quest
entirely. A Benedictine who has stopped trying to be better and
stopped seeking God is in deep, maybe even fatal trouble. We always
seek and strive. It is the very stuff of our lives as monastics.
This chapter, by the way, led to the traditional division we now have
of the Holy Rule into dates that will result in it all being read
three times a year. The novices had to hear it three times anyway and
elsewhere St. Benedict had asked that all in community hear
it "frequently." Hence, this system was devised to cover both fronts!
Love and prayers,
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