Holy Rule for Jan. 30
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
a man whose name I don't have (God knows for whom we pray,) who is having prostate cancer surgery.
Little Gabriel, for whom we prayed, and for his parents, Joe and Margaret. Some matches, possible but not perfect, have been found. He is on immunosuppressive therapy now. His parents are expecting another child in April, and hope that that sibling will be a perfect match, so they can use the cord blood for a transplant.
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
January 30, May 31, September 30
Chapter 7: On Humility
The second degree of humility
is that a person love not his own will
nor take pleasure in satisfying his desires,
but model his actions on the saying of the Lord,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).
It is written also,
"Self-will has its punishment,
but constraint wins a crown."
OK, who doesn't love their own will, or take pleasure in satisfying
their desires? Who doesn't love the dearest things they own and
treasure? For a healthy person, all of these are very normal loves.
For some of us, one or another of these loves can be very much part of
our vocation. The key is to keep them ordered, in line and yes, balanced!
The means to this step is neither to go overboard hunting for things
we hate to afflict ourselves with nor to insist on our own way at all
costs. The real meaning here is found in the statement that Christ
came not to do His own will, but the will of His Father, even in Gethsemane,
even on the Cross.
Alas, in us, that human will often DOES win: why else would we be
struggling along the monastic way all our lives? Unlike Jesus, we are
not sinless, we are able to sin and often do so all too gladly! We
must daily- even minute to minute- turn from the bad in our own
wills. It is an ongoing fight, but that is what conversatio morum means,
the commitment to live monastically, to reform our lives monastically.
As Benedictines we will- indeed, must- always be straining
against the negative goad, always be seeking the place of greater
light and good.
The will of God is frequently very hard to see. For some of us, at
some times, it seems downright impossible to see. There will always be
times when we must trundle along blindly, without our senses to
reassure us. That is why trust is such an integral part of our
monastic struggle. At those times, the only way haltingly forward is
to embrace the blinding darkness before us and firmly, trustingly
clutch the merciful hand of Christ. Jesus, I trust in You!
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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