Holy Rule for Dec. 7
Prayers for the repose of the soul of Bishop John Steinbock .Also, please add prayers for all in his diocese and the leadership who now must choose a new Bishop. Prayers to ask the Holy Spirit to guide them in their choice.
Pryers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all theeir loved ones and all who take are of them:
Tom, having an angiogram today.
Bobbie, who has fallen and broken her hip; for her speedy recovery.
Ray, facing a long recovery after extensive surgery - much healing needed here.
Steven who has Asperger's syndrome and is highly functional. He is being interviewed for a job on Wednesday December 8th. Prayers that God's will is done. Prayers also for Steven and his family that they are all blessed abundantly.
Prayers for Fr. Ambrose of Pluscarden on his feastday.
Prayers for the eternal rest of all who died at Pearl Harbor on this date and
for all World War II veterans, living and dead.
Lord, help us all as You now and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 7, August 7, December 7
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
Let clothing be given to the brethren
according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
and its climate;
for in cold regions more will be needed,
and in warm regions less.
This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.
We believe, however, that in ordinary places
the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
a scapular for work,
stockings and shoes to cover the feet.
The monks should not complain
about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
but be content with what can be found
in the district where they live and
can be purchased cheaply.
The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
that they be not too short for those who wear them,
but of the proper fit.
Let those who receive new clothes
always give back the old ones at once,
to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
when they receive new ones.
Those who are sent on a journey
shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
which they shall wash and restore on their return.
And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
than what they usually wear.
These they shall receive from the wardrobe
when they set out on a journey,
and restore when they return.
Well, I could write another love song to the habit, and I surely do
love it, but there is an issue here for all who are outside the
cloister, yet still with the monastic struggle. Clothes do not make
the monastic, but they do set up some very potent markers, for good
or ill. The Benedictine job is to find the golden mean, avoiding
One's clothing sends a message, fair or not. The message it sends may
very well advance or inhibit any subsequent messages one may try to
send. Sometimes lay people who are intensely religious will go
overboard in what can only be called eccentricity in dress. Bad move!
Right or wrong, our society writes them off at first glance. The odds
of being a witness who is heard are diminished. We should want our
appearance to suggest that Jesus Christ is WORTH turning to, not that
we are simply eccentrics with no fashion sense.
Simple, decent, clean, middle-of-the-road clothing is a goal
virtually any Oblate can attain. Not too flashy and costly, but
neither so tacky or beyond the fringe that it invokes scorn. The
cheaper the better, but not just for stinge!
The clothing industry in the West rides roughshod on the backs of a
LOT of oppressed people in the less developed countries. Buying your
good clothes used may not stop those awful practices, but it will at
least stop your direct complicity in them. Buy a used $45 shirt at a
Salvation Army Thrift Store and your $5 or so will actually go
towards helping someone in need, not just perpetuating that need.
Think how you look, but think very carefully of where your money
A further little fussy word here. Think twice about wearing labels
that show OUTSIDE. I speak as one who once loved buying used shirts
with some pricey brand's logo emblazoned on the breast. Sigh...
Conspicuous consumption depends on visible labels like that, and you
could be adding to a fire you'd rather extinguish. As a monk, I
became embarrassed to wear such things. It sent the wrong message
Lastly, almost everyone I know could make do with less clothes. We
pack a lot of consumerist variety into those closets of ours and that
sends a message, too. Always remember that the extra coat in our
chest "belongs to the poor," as St. Basil said.
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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