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Holy Rule for Dec. 26

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for all who have lost someone dear over the holidays. It can be so awful for them and then the pain can recur year after year. Prayers,
    Message 1 of 139 , Dec 25, 2010

      Prayers, please, for all who have lost someone dear over the holidays. It
      can be so awful for them and then the pain can recur year after year. Prayers,
      too, for all those addicts for whom this season of feasting in food and drink
      can be a particularly trying time of temptation. May God bless and strengthen
      them all. 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 26, August 26, December 26
      Chapter 68: If a Sister Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things

      If it happens
      that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a sister,
      let her nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority
      with all meekness and obedience.
      But if she sees that the weight of the burden
      altogether exceeds the limit of her strength,
      let her submit the reasons for her inability
      to the one who is over her
      in a quiet way and at an opportune time,
      without pride, resistance, or contradiction.
      And if after these representations
      the Superior still persists in her decision and command,
      let the subject know that this is for her good,
      and let her obey out of love,
      trusting in the help of God.


      Buried in chapters whose names may throw us off there are usually
      gems, one just has to dig a bit more carefully. Granted, impossible
      tasks are rarely asked of anyone these days, much less Oblates who
      live outside the monastery, but there is a beautiful method given
      here which has the widest of applications.

      Most interpersonal conflict arises from one being or feeling wronged.
      Escalation often follows when one tries to express their displeasure
      to the offender. Even people who are truly wrong do not enjoy being
      humiliated or treated as if they were nothing. Upset by another's
      actions, it is easy to lose one's cool. When both parties blow up, a
      relentless cycle of discord is born.

      The method given here for approaching one's superior is a masterpiece
      of crisis intervention and prevention for almost any situation in

      "...in a quiet way and at an opportune time, without pride,
      resistance, or contradiction."

      We ought to carve that on the walls of every mediation center in the
      world, on the doors to every marriage counselor and above every
      complaint desk (or, as they euphemize them these days, "Customer
      Service," but what's in a name?)

      Look at what is called for here: composure and calm, timing, respect
      for the other person (Gandhi would even say love for the foe,) non-
      violence and non-contentiousness. Use this approach with
      disagreements and many of them will melt away. One reason Gandhi's
      non-violence worked was that he employed all of these things, the
      opponent was never denied her worth or dignity. When his followers
      pared the list, they failed. This is the recipe for lasting results,
      not for a temporary subjugation.

      Jesus, of course, gives us a three step process to redress wrongs: go
      to the person alone, if that doesn't work go with a witness, if even
      that fails, then haul them up before the whole assembly. We can
      consider ourselves absolved if we follow all those steps and may feel
      justified, but if we undertake ANY of those steps, especially the
      first one, without the calm prescribed by St. Benedict, our effort is
      all but guaranteed to fail. We can sputter out: "I went to her and I
      got NOWHERE!" Ah, yes, but HOW did you go? "He wouldn't even listen
      to the whole community!" Neither would you, if made to feel that
      small and worthless in public.

      Very often our manner of dealing with others says a great deal about
      how we esteem ourselves. A balanced dignity and self-love is shown in
      the Holy Rule's approach. It will go a longer way toward ending
      conflict than a "wronged prima donna" move. Sometimes prima donnas
      of either gender are filled with angry self-hatred.

      Watch people fight and it will be easy to see that many consider any
      slight or offense against themselves to be THE original sin. Sigh...
      Give people like that a lot of room. Being wrong is not a capital
      offense, everybody does it at one time or another. People who
      demonstrate anything else by their actions damage their own standing
      in the group as well, and rightly so.

      Remember that every disagreement hurts the whole group. A family at
      dinner with two not speaking is a tense affair. You cannot calm a
      child by saying "This is between your Father and me! It has nothing
      to do with you." But it does, it really does. A community in choir
      after a huge blow-up between two members is not an exquisite taste of
      mystical prayer. Everybody suffers. That's why fixing these fender-
      benders is so important and why St. Benedict gave us a way that is so
      very likely to achieve results.

      Now THAT'S creative peacemaking!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 139 of 139 , Nov 29, 2016



        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,

        Jerome, OSB
        Petersham, MA



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