Holy Rule for Dec. 6
Deo gratias, Frank may have to just lose some toes, not his foot. A procedure the doc tried worked better than expeted.
Deo gratias, Theresa is less medicated than before and doing better.
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Fr. Jude on the anniversary of his
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 6, August 6, December 6
Chapter 54: Whether a Monastic Should Receive Letters or Anything
On no account shall a monastic be allowed
to receive letters, blessed tokens or any little gift whatsoever
from parents or anyone else,
or from her sisters,
or to give the same,
without the Abbess's permission.
But if anything is sent her even by her parents,
let her not presume to take it
before it has been shown to the Abbess.
And it shall be in the Abbess's power to decide
to whom it shall be given,
if she allows it to be received;
and the sister to whom it was sent should not be grieved,
lest occasion be given to the devil.
Should anyone presume to act otherwise,
let her undergo the discipline of the Rule.
Part of this is about equality, part of it is about depending on
one's community for everything. But there is another part that is
more readily available to monastics and Oblates in the world, a
certain cloister of the heart, a partial flight from the secular.
Outside news, to which we all can become so easily addicted, is not
always useful, let alone nourishing. When I was a pastoral associate
in Boston, I was the slave of the weather channel: knew the five day
forecast ALL the time. Then I moved here- no cable anywhere- and
pretty much let God surprise me each morning with whatever was
available. Granted, traveling on foot and by subway to do a lot of
ministry in Boston, I did have a greater need to know, but not THAT
We get a Sunday paper (the NY Times,) once a week and that is it. If
something really big happens between Sundays, the regulars who come
to Mass will tell us. That's how we found out about Princess Diana.
Our contractor told us about 9/11. We were in Mass, praying for the
world anyway, with no clue that the towers were literally falling as
we prayed, that the Pentagon was on fire and thousands were dead.
It really didn't matter, in one sense, whether we knew or not: we
were already praying. Our prayers did not need details to be
effective. The heart of God was already breaking, already knew, HAD
already known from all time and beyond. We were just begging Him to
look at His people while not knowing which ones needed it most. That
made no difference. We ALWAYS know less than Him. It is the usual
You may be sure we all watched Diana's funeral, and you may be sure
we all watched the 9/11 news. We're not dinosaurs and we cared
deeply. However, having lived on both sides now (what a song cue for
Judy Collins!) of the media divide, I can assure you that a whole lot
of extraneous stuff got mixed in with a very little bit of worthwhile
There is much that is false, truly false and illusory in the
world. We all know that quite well. What we can miss is that media's
job is to make a lot of things much, much more real and pressing than
they are or will ever be. That sort of illusion we can easily do
This is in no way obscurantist or anti-intellectual, but a part of
the monastic heart actually LIKES to be out of touch in some areas
and profits from same. No one has to live in a cave, but I, as I
imagine most of us without any dream of large stock holdings, would
have managed quite well without knowing about every corporate scandal
in excruciating detail.There's a lot of stuff we DON'T need to
know, and in not knowing some of it there lies a great peace!
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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