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Holy Rule for Dec. 15

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Mark, 47, and Gregory, 57, both of whom took their own lives: for their eternal rest, for their families and all who mourn them.
    Message 1 of 138 , Dec 14, 2010
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for Mark, 47, and Gregory, 57, both of whom took their own lives: for their eternal rest, for their families and all who mourn them.

      Prayers, please, for Br. Vincent on his birthday, graces and blessings and ad
      multos annos, many years!

      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 15, August 15, December 15
      Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received

      If a pilgrim monastic coming from a distant region
      wants to live as a guest of the monastery,
      let her be received for as long a time as she desires,
      provided she is content
      with the customs of the place as she finds them
      and does not disturb the monastery by superfluous demands,
      but is simply content with what she finds.
      If, however, she censures or points out anything reasonably
      and with the humility of charity,
      let the Abbess consider prudently
      whether perhaps it was for that very purpose
      that the Lord sent her.

      If afterwards she should want to bind herself to stability,
      her wish should not be denied her,
      especially since there has been opportunity
      during her stay as a guest
      to discover her character.

      REFLECTION

      One of the Desert Fathers (forgive me for not recalling which one,)
      said that there is nothing so careful as a monk not living in his
      native land. That's very true for most of us, though part two of this
      chapter makes it clear that it's not true for everyone. When we
      visit, we want people to think the best of the home, the family, the
      land from which we came. It is this nobility of striving, this
      mindful courtesy that the Desert Father wished to praise. In fact, if
      I read it correctly, the implication was that it might even be better
      to be a monastic AWAY from one's native land for just those reasons.

      There is something striking here. Remember how badly the gyrovagues
      and Sarabaites were painted in the types of monks? Well, these were
      the wandering ones, and St. Benedict knew very well that a pilgrim
      monk at the door could be one of these sorts. He doesn't even mention
      it.

      He wants them to have a chance to do better, to be healed by
      community. If they louse it up, fine, he's not going to lose a lot of
      sleep over it, but he does insist they be given a chance to improve.
      Given what the monastic world thought of gyrovagues and the like,
      that says a LOT for St. Benedict's tolerance and clemency.

      Not all of us are in cloisters, but all of us have doors. The people
      who come to those doors may be gyrovagues and Sarabaites, but they
      may not, too. We have to give them a chance to prove or reveal
      themselves. This is true of anyone we encounter. Snap judgments are
      not wise, they cheat us out of many gifts. Being too much or too
      little on the side of caution are both traps. Tread the middle way,
      always the middle way.

      This doesn't mean we have to dupe ourselves into perpetual
      vulnerability, but it does mean we have to be open, mindful and
      listening, really listening to all comers. Listen first, sift later.
      Do both, always both.

      We can get so used to our lives that we are blind to areas that could
      be improved. We can get so used to doing things one way that anything
      better is beyond us. Our routines which become sacrosanct are often
      not at all that holy!

      An outsider's objective view can let us see a good deal about
      ourselves. Some things we may want to change, some we may realize are
      fine as they are. Either way, the visitor can be a reality check of
      great worth.


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



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    • 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


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