Holy Rule for Dec. 12
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Tom and Jane, on their first wedding anniversary and extra prayers for Tom, since it is also his birthday. Ad multos annos! Many years!
Steve, out of work for a year now...that he may persevere
Jennifer, for continued health through a high-risk pregnancy
William, 20, going on retreat at La Grande Charteuse and hoping to be acepted as a novice Carthusian.
Chris, terminally ill with colon cancer and hoping to stay at home with his Dad, Mark, rather than go to hospice. Prayers, too for his Dad and for his uncle, Stuart. May God grant Chris a peaceful and happy death.
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 12, August 12, December 12
Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters
When she is to be received she promises before all in the oratory
stability, fidelity to monastic life and obedience. This promise
she shall make before God and His Saints,
so that if she should ever act otherwise, she may know that she
will be condemned by Him whom she mocks. Of this promise of hers
let her draw up a document in the name of the Saints whose relics
are there and of the Abbess who is present. Let her write this
document with her own hand; or if she is illiterate, let another
write it at her request,
and let the novice put her mark to it. Then let her place it with
her own hand upon the altar;
and when she has placed it there, let the novice at once intone
this verse: "Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I
shall live: and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Ps. 118
:116). Let the whole community answer this verse three times
and add the "Glory be to the Father." Then let the novice prostrate
herself at each one's feet,
that they may pray for her. And from that day forward let her be
counted as one of the community.
If she has any property, let her either give it beforehand to the
poor or by solemn donation bestow it on the monastery, reserving
nothing at all for herself, as indeed she knows that from that day
forward she will no longer have power even over her own body. At
once, therefore, in the oratory, let her be divested of her own
clothes which she is wearing
and dressed in the clothes of the monastery. But let the clothes of
which she was divested
be put aside in the wardrobe and kept there. Then if she should
ever listen to the persuasions of the devil and decide to leave the
monastery (which God forbid), she may be divested of the monastic
clothes and cast out. Her document, however, which the Abbess has
taken from the altar, shall not be returned to her, but shall be
kept in the monastery.
The Church approves religious rules. This is the basis for
asserting that our Holy Rule is inspired by the Holy Spirit,
because the Church gave its seal of approval. The Church, however,
is indubitably older and often wiser than monastic life. It predates every
form of optional religious commitment. It is the blessing of the Church
which makes official monastic life possible for any and all of us.
This is just a prelude to saying that the wisdom of the Church long
ago stopped people from making solemn vows, a life-long commitment
difficult to break, right out of novitiate. Not only does this
longer program protect people, to a certain extent, from making a
mistake, it also spares the monastery from having a lot of
undesirables with chapter votes running the show. There are
some I have known who left in simple vows for whose exit I remain
eternally grateful! Thanks be to God that they were never chapter
members with votes. What a zoo that would have been!
A year may well have been enough in St. Benedict's time. People had
vastly shorter life spans, it was a bigger chunk of their lives.
They also had to grow up more quickly and their options were fewer
by far than those of our own day.
Oblates, therefore, can garner a few kernels of truth in this
chapter about commitment, that bugbear of the baby boomer
generation and beyond. Modern people find it terribly hard to
commit, some never manage it at all. As such, a bit of wisdom older
than our own age may be very useful in our everyday lives.
Whether it's a marriage or engagement or a job or a volunteer
chairperson position, don't jump at things. Read the Rule, so to
speak, three times at least! Look, look, look as mindfully as you
can at the truth and reality of the situation.
Benedictines are not people afraid of commitment, but we live in a
world where many are. Our witness here must be care and balance. We
must resolutely walk BETWEEN the extremes of foolhardy haste and
crippling fear. In the world of today, that is no small witness and
no easy task. Pull this one off, and you have a done a service to
many, not just to yourself!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Pluscarden Abbey, on the feast of St. Andrew, one of its patrons, and for all of Scotland, whose patron is also St. Andrew.
On this last day of November, please remember the Holy Souls, the whole month is dedicated to prayer for them, and remember to pray for them throughout the year! Ask them to intercede for you, too, they are great friends to have and they are so very grateful to us for our prayers and help for them.
Prayers for the safety all the people, property, buildings and animals threatened by extreme fires in Tennessee. Many fires are being fought, prayers for those fighting them and trying to help.
Prayers for the people of Mosul and Aleppo, and for all in danger and crisis from fighting and war in these areas.
Prayers for Ann, who has a possible detached retina, that it can be treated successfully. She is also praying to accept God’s will, whatever that may be. The troubled retina is in the better of her eyes, so retaining vision there is very important.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Andrew and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the recovery of the 11 injured in the Ohio State University attack, one of whom is critical. Prayers, too, for the repentance and conversion of the attacker, who was killed, and prayers for his eternal rest and for the families of all.
Prayers for Val, who fell and broke her hip. She is recovering from surgery but is not doing well with uncontrolled blood pressure and is in ICU. Also prayers for her family.
Prayers for Ron, for whom we've prayed, who had open heart surgery postponed. His condition is not great and this surgery needs to happen as soon as possible.
Prayers for Chiara's return to the Church. She is doing so much helping others that she doesn't need to look far to discover Christ's presence in those she helps.
Prayers for Bev and Erika. They are Jehovah's Witnesses. Prayers that they discover the fullness of the faith and truth in the Catholic Church. Also that Bev finds full time work soon.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent. Alleluia!
Thanks so much. JL
March 31, July 31, November 30
Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent
Although the life of a monk
ought to have about it at all times
the character of a Lenten observance,
yet since few have the virtue for that,
we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
the brethren keep their lives most pure
and at the same time wash away during these holy days
all the negligences of other times.
And this will be worthily done
if we restrain ourselves from all vices
and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.
During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
"with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.
From his body, that is
he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
and with the joy of spiritual desire
he may look forward to holy Easter.
Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
what it is that he wants to offer,
and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
and will merit no reward.
Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.
Because we read St. Benedict's 1500 year old Holy Rule with modern
eyes, it often seems harsh. To balance our perspective, we need to
see the radical nature of the Rule when written. Face it, folks, this
was most definitely a gentler Rule for European wannabes who could
never hack it in the Egyptian desert in their wildest dreams. His
introductory paragraph points out his plan of adaptation: "...since
few have the virtue for that..." Our founder was most certainly writing
for the struggling plodders of monasticism and he knew it. Keeping
that uppermost in our minds can be informatively humbling.
St. Benedict's fatherly heart was
with the underdogs, the also rans, the strays and those that others
could not be bothered with. He must have felt at some point that
there HAD to be a way for the spiritually challenged to become
monastics. A millennium and a half later, we are still benefiting
from his attempts.
Hence, for us Benedictines, when the Evil One tempts us with his lies
like: "You could never do that! You could never be THAT holy!"
our reaction must be to ignore him totally. We have no clue
of how holy we can be. God alone knows that and God alone will lead
us and show us in ways we are quite unlikely to ever understand.
Whenever the demon of discouragement tells us we are far beneath this
Rule for beginners, we must shrug indifferently and move on, briefly
impressed for once with the Father of Lies' firm grasp on the obvious.
Of *COURSE* we are beneath this Rule, beneath any of the earlier
ones. Duh?!? We're Benedictines. Our Order was founded for people
like us. That should never, ever be a cause to stop trying, to give
up or quit. On the contrary, that fact should be a heartening
confirmation that we are EXACTLY where we belong, in the best
possible remedial education program for slow learners like us, right
where God wants us.
Like a mother to a crying child, devoid of hope, who moans "But I
CAN'T, I just can't!" St. Benedict is softly saying, "Well,
just do what you can and that will be OK." Get the picture? OK! Then
go out, play nice and do what you can today... Don't be surprised if
you find that God is increasing, sometimes imperceptibly, that "what
you can" little by little to heights of great holiness, which we will
achieve all but unawares and only with His help. Someday, we really
SHALL "run in the way...with hearts enlarged."
Love and prayers,