Holy Rule for Dec. 31
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. John Harvey, OSFS, founder of Courage and of Fr. Alexis Foyo, OSB, formerly of St. Leo Abbey, late of Prince of Peace, and for all who mourn them.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Sarah and her fiance, in need of guidance and direction with a problem they are dealing with. Please pray that God will show them how to trust each other in this.
Brittany and Mikicahel, planning to marry but of different faiths.
Jim, who will be undergoing a biopsy for a tumor on his lung next week.
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
May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfil with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
"Whoever you are, therefore, who are hastening to the heavenly
homeland..." That "whoever" is the true object all this heartfelt
tenderness of Saint Benedict , the one for whom he wrote! He only
made one qualifier, that of "hastening to the heavenly homeland." It
seems that some of our decisions about who matters and who does not
have employed a somewhat more restrictive standard than that of our
holy Father Benedict.
"Whoever you are..." I don't care who you are or how much I disagree
with you, whether I nearly hate your positions or love them blindly,
it is you I am called to love, to honor to respect, to cherish as a
fellow monastic traveler. You matter to me. You do. You have to,
because this is the Holy Rule I have embraced, that we all have.
In the United States, through much of our history, Catholics and Jews
shared a roughly equal amount of contempt. Great camaraderie could
flourish between the two and still quite often does. Having said
that, it has always amused me that many Jews I know get along MUCH
better with Catholics than they do with Jews who disagree with them!
How like ourselves!
When disagreement happens within our family, we hurt more, it is more
important to us. The differing opinion of a stranger on the subway
would hardly matter at all! Maybe the fact that we CAN get hurt and
angry is a good sign, maybe it means we are at least beginning to
love, but it is HOW we get hurt or angry that we have to examine
very, very closely.
The important thing is not opinion or observance or concepts. The
important thing is you. Whoever you are. Every time I fail that, I
have to get up, apologize and start over. Maybe not right from square
one each time, but again each time.
If I ever stop doing those things, I have stopped being a
Benedictine. Whoever you are- but it's not just me that has to
embrace that, you do, too. We all do. I am the only one I can insist
upon, however, the only one I can make change, and that might be good
to keep in mind, whoever you are.
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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