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Holy Rule for Dec. 11

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX A reader, Tom, posted to me that yesterday was the 42nd anniversary of Thomas Merton s death. Let us pray for his eternal rest. Many profitted from his
    Message 1 of 138 , Dec 10, 2010
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      +PAX

      A reader, Tom, posted to me that yesterday was the 42nd anniversary of Thomas Merton's death. Let us pray for his eternal rest. Many profitted from his labors.

      Prayers for Kristian, on his 23nd birthday, and for Joy and Dick, his parents,
      and all their family.

      Lord, help us all as
      You know and will. Helps us believe and know that You take care of us. 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.



      REFLECTION



      The Holy Rule is an awesome document about 1,500 years old. Since it
      is always both these things, it is helpful to look at both past and present
      in reading it. In St. Benedict's time, and for many centuries after him,
      numerous less than lofty social reasons obtained for joining a
      monastery. This was, alas, as true for the nobility and it was for
      the serfs.

      Got an unmarriageable noble daughter? Ship her off to join the "unclaimed
      treasures" abbey, if they won't take her, found and fund of your own.
      Got a younger son with no inheritance or title, not the sharpest
      knife in the drawer, either? Sounds like a vocation to the Church to
      me... Dowager queen or ex-wife a governmental problem? Have I got a
      convent for YOU!

      For the lower socioeconomic groups, it was often flat out social
      climbing to join the monastery. You not only
      came out well-dressed and well-fed, but you often got educated in the
      bargain, too. If one was not born noble, or if one was less than
      wonderful at warfare, the Church was the ONLY way to climb to power.

      History has removed or severely limited many of these shoddy reasons
      for joining. Hence, it is not always wise to play hard to get with
      the reasons for same out of the way. I have known communities who
      played too hard to get for too long and now get nothing at all.
      Whooops! Poetic justice there! Maybe you should have just stuck to
      not sleeping with knives at your side when you wanted to get literal
      about the Holy Rule!

      Before the worst of the vocations crunch came, there was a terrible
      myth afloat in the late 60's and early 70's: "the perfect vocation."
      Holding out for these ephemeral dreams has seriously harmed more than
      one house. Just as women were learning to debunk the Cinderella myth,
      many houses fell prey to the foolish notion that Prince or Princess
      Charming really WOULD arrive on a charger one day.

      It's balance again, always, always balance. This is
      true not only of monasteries, but of single Oblates seeking a mate
      and of any Oblate seeking to fill a job slot or assign a task to a
      child. The apparently "perfect" one may not always be the best bet!

      Balance, look at the person, the REAL person,
      not the "perfect" one you desire so much that you see an illusion.
      Mindfulness, here! Really, really, look at the real, strive to see it
      well and then act accordingly. Jesus, after all, IS the Truth.

      Ask any employer, many a plodder who was given a chance and knows it
      will try harder and actually perform much better than the "dream" who
      arrived with all ducks neatly in a row. In any situation in life, it
      is crucially important to remember that carved-in-stone standards are
      never subjective and people ALWAYS are. Thus, a little flexibility is
      going to be required unless you are totally content with never
      getting anywhere.

      God is in charge of
      these things, but God is terribly polite. Get in His way and He will
      usually leave you to your own devices, since they can be the most
      effective teachers! Be too picky or not picky enough and you will
      miss whatever treasure He has for you. Don't take that risk!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 138 of 138 , Apr 10, 2011
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        +PAX

        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.

        REFLECTION

        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
        they
        are not seeking God, seeking to go deeper into Him. To do so would be
        folly.

        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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