Holy Rule for Dec. 25
A very blessed and grace-filled Christmas to all, may the Christ Child fill your hearts with joy, peace and love!
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Pat, newly diagnosed with lung cancer
Ed, undergoing treatment for lung cancer
Vera, on Christmas Day it is her 81st birthday, and the first one on her own, as Bert died this year.
Margaret and Doris, lifelong friends, who have been apart ever since Doris went into a home. Margaret lives on her own and feels the isolation badly
All those who are housebound and alone this Christmas.
Prayers are asked for a mother, who died this week, and for all members of her family who grieve for her.
Also for a young man awaiting a pre-sentencing report over Christmas, that he has the courage and fortitude to accept whatever decisions are made for his future.
For two men who will be spending time in prison this Christmas, with the wish that the time they have spent there will have given them new perspectives and new horizons to aim for on release.
Finally, for ALL involved in the difficulties in Afghanistan, on both sides, that the peace of Christmas may be the start of a new beginning there for everyone.
Franny who is in CICU for a heart problem. She took a turn for the worse. One of her sons is in Tennessee and cannot get back right now.
Sister Mildred, OSB who is undergoing emergency gall bladder surgery today, Christmas Eve, and for her speedy recovery and return to community.
Dot, 80's, hospitalized with pneumonia and electrolyte problems, no energy and very down
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 25, August 25, December 25
Chapter 67: On Brethren Who Are Sent on a Journey
Let the brethren who are sent on a journey
to the prayers of all the brethren and of the Abbot;
and always at the last prayer of the Work of God
let a commemoration be made of all absent brethren.
When brethren return from a journey,
at the end of each canonical Hour of the Work of God
on the day they return,
let them lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory
and beg the prayers of all
on account of any faults
that may have surprised them on the road,
through the seeing or hearing of something evil,
or through idle talk.
And let no one presume to tell another
whatever he may have seen or heard outside of the monastery,
because this causes very great harm.
But if anyone presumes to do so,
let him undergo the punishment of the Rule.
And let him be punished likewise who would presume
to leave the enclosure of the monastery
and go anywhere or do anything, however small,
without an order from the Abbot.
Rare is the person who can manage to stay employed without at least a
slightly different persona at work. We are one thing there, because
we have to be, but when we clock out, much, if not all of the work
persona is shed. In fact, we usually have a whole repertoire of
different selves, being one thing with our grandmother and quite
another with a childhood friend we have known all our lives, one
thing with the promising new date and quite another with the spouse
of many years!
Secular society has enlarged upon this tendency to its own ends.
Because the tendency is so deeply rooted in us, we may fail to see
its dangers when carried to extremes. Thanks to a society often
glaringly unassisted by revelation, we have the unhappy concept of
different umbrellas, different sets of ethics to cover different
areas of life. "Hey, religion is fine if you want it, but this is
BUSINESS!" or "I may be a Christian, but this is public service. I
was elected by a constituency that expected me to leave some of that
Gospel stuff at the door." Well, folks, such notions do not
wash well. In fact, they really don't wash at all.
The message of the Holy Rule and of the Gospel is that there is one
umbrella, period. There is one persona, period. Granted, in the
latter, shades and gradations may last throughout most of our
struggling lives, but the goal is clear. All monastic, all Christian,
all the time. One heart, one umbrella, one Lord, one faith, one
That work persona that we drop when we clock out, the totally free
and other person we are on days off or on trips away can be an OK
notion in relation to work. Wouldn't we find someone who was a
salesperson or teacher or secretary or manager ALL the time to be a
dreadful drip? The concept fails, however, when it is applied to
vocations, to any vocation at all. One does not take a vacation from
being married or a parent or ordained or a monastic.
Do I hear loud screams in cyber-space as I mention BALANCE again?
Sorry, but it is true. There is a balanced way to be under one
umbrella all the time that we must strive to achieve. Yes, I am
different with different friends, we all are, we have to be, charity
demands that. But there is a commonality between all the threads of
our behavior. We are monastics. We are freer within defined limits.
It is to the balance of those defined limits that this chapter refers.
At Petersham, we still follow this custom of prayer for one who will
be away overnight. The prayers are said in the refectory, after
grace. One is blessed leaving and returning, while kneeling in the
center of the ref. It's just a way of saying, as a community, that we
all know that maintaining that one umbrella can be tough, especially
when one is away alone. We want to support each other with our
prayers, we want our brother to know that our hearts are with him all
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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