Holy Rule for Dec. 2
Pfrayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical heaalth of he following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Peg, recovering from surgery.
L., dealing with a host of major medical, psychological and addiction problems.
Frank, who we've been praying for due to a number of health issues, really needs some heavy prayers. The doctor has decided that they must amputate his leg, from just below the knee because 3 of his toes are already dead and they fear gangrene is setting in.
Theresa, the one we prayed for recently because part of the family wanted to put her into a different care center. They went ahead and did it , and now the aunt seems to be dying due to being heavily drugged and denied sufficient food and water.
Linda, desperately trying to finish her dissertation this year and it's been one thing after another getting in the way, serious family medical problems. It's really wearing her out.
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 2, August 2, December 2
Chapter 51: On Brethren Who Go Not Very Far Away
A Brother who is sent out on some business
and is expected to return to the monastery that same day
shall not presume to eat while he is out,
even if he is urgently requested to do so
by any person whomsoever,
unless he has permission from his Abbot.
And if he acts otherwise, let him be excommunicated.
Some of us may recall childhood playmates who were not allowed to eat
at our homes or anywhere else, just at their own home. I know I do.
She came from a VERY close-knit Seventh Day Adventist family.
That girl's family had a high level of what sociologists term
liminality. The term is used often to describe Hasidic Jews and the
Old Order Amish. It is the degree of difference from the rest of the
world that is undertaken voluntarily and its effect is to heighten
the connectedness of the group in question, to strengthen bonds.
Even though he could not have named it that, maybe liminality is
something of what St. Benedict is aiming at in this chapter. Surely
we ARE meant to be communal, to be cenobitic families that are very
closely bonded to one another. Surely a meal is one way of both
stressing that bond and limiting outside competitive ones. There is
also the problem- greater in St. Benedict's day than in our own- of
the monastic dining on heaven knows what that was forbidden.
These days, far less is forbidden to us dietarily as monastics, but
there are still dangers of monastics being wined and dined and
getting far too accustomed to "only-the-best-for-me-thanks!" We are
certainly allowed to eat out, but I think that it is significant
that, in my monastery, we are ordinarily forbidden to eat in expensive places or
in people's homes without permission.
That's just our custom here. In many ways, it is very good, too.
Remember that we usually go out in our habits. I sure don't mind
being seen in Taco Bell or some family restaurant in my habit, but I
would be woefully embarrassed and ashamed to be seen so attired in
the most expensive restaurant in Boston. What kind of a statement
would that make?
Our homes are domestic churches, they are temples. However humble,
they are the banquet halls of a great King.That's what we are called
to remember in this chapter. Our homes are sacred, whether Oblate or Abbot
Primate, we live in the houses of God. To His dwelling place, others must
never be preferred. Ask me where I'd like to eat my last meal and the answer
would be right here at home.
Having said that we all dwell in domestic temples, banquet halls of
the Greatest King, let us also take care to invite others to share that
tremendous grace. The simplest meal in such a setting, provided the host sees it
for the splendor of God's presence that it truly is, is a rich blessing for the
indeed. And we are, after all Benedictines: hospitality is one of our
Love and prayers,
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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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