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Holy Rule for Dec. 30

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Noella, health
    Message 1 of 138 , Dec 29, 2010
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      Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

      Noella, health crisis, a night in the hospital and new meds, some problems with the latter, may she return to health.

      Linda, special intention.

      Andrew, upper GI x rays and under a lot of stress.

      Belated feastday prayers for David and all our Davids. Graces abounding and many more! Ad multos annos.

      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 30, August 30, December 30
      Chapter 72: On the Good Zeal Which They Ought to Have

      Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness
      which separates from God and leads to hell,
      so there is a good zeal
      which separates from vices and leads to God
      and to life everlasting.
      This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice
      with the most fervent love.
      Thus they should anticipate one another in honor (Rom. 12:10);
      most patiently endure one another's infirmities,
      whether of body or of character;
      vie in paying obedience one to another --
      no one following what she considers useful for herself,
      but rather what benefits another;
      tender the charity of sisterhood chastely;
      fear God in love;
      love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity;
      prefer nothing whatever to Christ.
      And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!

      REFLECTION

      This chapter, full of self-evident and beautiful prose should serve
      as a short rule of life, a summary of all that has gone before it.
      Live this one, and you're all right: the details from the other
      chapters will take care of themselves. Little wonder then that its
      principal points are love, obedience and humility, practiced in the
      chastity of wholeness. (Chastity, it must be recalled, is proper to
      every state in life. It is the well-ordered, balanced and wholesome
      use of sexuality.) Even less wonder that, to call Scripture in to witness
      here, "the greatest of these is love." Merton's one-line Holy Rule
      summary also applies: "Love is the Rule."

      The beauty here is so great that we often do not spend enough time
      looking at its opposite: "the evil zeal of bitterness." What a great
      turn of phrase! Like many of us, St. Benedict seems to have known
      some whose bitterness turned into an energetic zeal, a way of life, a
      broken power line in a windy world that could strike others or
      themselves without warning.

      And "zeal" is precisely the word! People can put such frighteningly
      zealous levels of effort into self-loathing bitterness. It becomes a
      full-time job, one which requires so much energy that it's a marvel
      that they continue.

      Bitter anger, self-hatred, ill-will towards many,
      these are viciously involuted cycles, cancers of the soul. They turn
      on the self, malignantly. They injure and alienate others to make
      one's twisted world view remain correct. They never rest, the fist
      is always clenched, the hand never open.

      I have known two monks with this dreadful problem, both now long
      dead. Thank heavens, they both persevered to the end and one hopes
      that was enough, because, frankly, little else could be said for
      them. They both guaranteed that their own lives were hell and pretty
      much ensured smaller doses of hell for the rest of us living with
      them.

      When I was much younger and living with those embittered monks, it
      was hard to look at them with much pity or calm. It isn't now, thank
      God, and I have spent considerable time praying for both of them, as
      well as for a few of their "runners-up"! While all things are
      possible with God, the terrible thing is that this self-hatred never
      gets fixed in some people. It can be a life sentence. Then, prayer is
      the only answer.

      In any situation, but perhaps worse when the sufferer is one's spouse
      or parent or child, this bitterness is a terrible cross, for both the
      sufferer and those around her. It might seem cold comfort to say that
      it can make us all saints, but it truly is not cold comfort at
      all. Being saints is the only thing, ultimately, that matters. I hope
      by now some of my crosses of the past are praying for me, protecting
      me, by their prayers, from what once ailed them and forgiving me for
      the times I provoked them!

      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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        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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