Holy Rule for Dec. 22
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Brittany, painful ulcer around a tooth, cause unknown, may it be a simple infection, and respond to antibiotics.
M., having a hard time with chemo and family issues.
For safe travel for:
Ben, Sarah, and Jacob driving from AZ to MA for Christmas.
Simon and Heather, returning from Vancouver to the north of Scotland for Christmas, and for everyone travelling to be with loved ones at this time of year.
Please pray for everyone who will be spending the holidays alone, that they feel the peace and comfort of Christ, and are able to rejoice in the birth of the Holy babe.
Prayers for Steve, applying to a highly competitive medical program in Seattle.
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 22, August 22, December 22
Chapter 65: On the Prior of the Monastery
It happens all too often that the constituting of a Prior
gives rise to grave scandals in monasteries.
For there are some who become inflated with the evil spirit of pride
and consider themselves second Abbots.
By usurping power
they foster scandals and cause dissensions in the community.
Especially does this happen
in those places where the Prior is constituted
by the same Bishop or the same Abbots
who constitute the Abbot himself.
What an absurd procedure this is
can easily be seen;
for it gives the Prior an occasion for becoming proud
from the very time of his constitution,
by putting the thought into his mind
that he is freed from the authority of his Abbot:
"For," he will say to himself, "you were constituted
by the same persons who constitute the Abbot."
From this source are stirred up envy, quarrels, detraction,
rivalry, dissensions and disorders.
For while the Abbot and the Prior are at variance,
their souls cannot but be endangered by this dissension;
and those who are under them,
currying favor with one side or the other,
go to ruin.
The guilt for this dangerous state of affairs
rests on the heads of those
whose action brought about such disorder.
When I read the line about those governed "currying favor with one
side or the other," I thought immediately of the children of divorce.
Children, however, are quite perceptive, and it is not just divorce,
but any noticeable drift between parents that they will manipulate.
That is why, in family and monastery, unity in authority is very
St. Benedict tries to guarantee this by letting the Abbot choose his
own Prior, parents can do it by a struggle to overcome their own
personal differences for the good of the children. This is not to say
that the parents can necessarily get over their problems, but that
they must at least try to be consistent with the children, for the
children's sakes. As St. Benedict points out, this choosing of sides
in child or monastic, can lead to ruin.
Why does it lead to ruin? Because manipulation to some degree puts us
in charge of ourselves, something no child and very, very few
monastics are strong enough to be. As St. Bernard of Clairvaux
said: "The one who has himself for a master has a fool for a
disciple." One reason we took obedience upon ourselves was our
knowledge of our own weakness. This knowledge can fade and dim with
time, we can be convinced we know better. Our obedience is a real protection
Benedictines not only are not in charge of themselves, but, as the
Holy Rule defines cenobitic community life, they "desire" this lack
of control. They "desire to live under a Rule and an Abbot."
One cannot expect children to be wise enough to see how good and
necessary obedience is at every turn, but it shouldn't be much of a
stretch for us adults!
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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