Holy Rule for Feb. 1
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Mary, for all her family, especially her daughter, Barbara, and for all who mourn her.
Prayers for Jo, multiple health issues that could leas to a hysterectomy, which she hopes to avoid.
Prayers for Hilmar, 80+, very painful fractured vertebrae.
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
February 1, June 2, October 2
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fourth degree of humility
is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away.
For the Scripture says,
"The one who perseveres to the end,
is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
"Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!
And to show how those who are faithful
ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
"For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom.
Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
they go on with joy to declare,
"But in all these trials we conquer,
through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
Again, in another place the Scripture says,
"You have tested us, O God;
You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
You have brought us into a snare;
You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
it goes on to say,
"You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).
Moreover, by their patience
those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
in adversities and injuries:
when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
when forced to go a mile, they go two;
with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).
The awful trip here is the part about holding "fast to patience with
a silent mind." How on earth does one begin to do that? The trend in
consumerist Western society is pretty much to form people- no, let's
call them what consumerism does: "consumers"- in a mold that ALWAYS
listens to very noisy minds. That, after all, is the root of desire
and consumption (clever play on words there!) and profit. Nothing
else matters much to a consumerist society.
It's not surprising that living, moving and having our being in such
waters, we more or less acquire consumerist gills in order to
breathe. However, the Gospel itself and the Holy Rule tell
us that we must adopt a view which contradicts that of the secular
world. Learning to do this is neither easy nor fast.
The really hard thing here is that sometimes, even when we are right,
we have to put up and shut up, so to speak. The Rule speaks of
bearing injustice and false brethren. There are no qualifiers here
that say: "You may think it is unjust, but the truth is otherwise."
No, sometimes we must actually endure stuff that really is unjust,
endure people that truly are false. As one very wise old monk of
Pluscarden once said: "Some things will only be fixed by a cross in
the cemetery." That is frighteningly true. Some people, some
dysfunctions will go unchecked and there are only two things one can
do about it: leave or endure.
This may feel like denial to us. It isn't. That's not what's asked of
us. I may feel very clearly that a person or situation is wrong,
nearly know it, but what is asked of me is to react in a particularly
controlled fashion, "with a silent mind."
Non-judging also enters in here. We must have silent minds because,
generally speaking, we cannot be sure what is going on! Someone
we may think is at fault for giving us the silent treatment may be in such
pain, mental or physical, that they have all they can do to bear that. It
may have nothing to do with us at all. We are obliged to think the best of
Jesus did say, after all, the He is the Truth. He is not calling us
to stupidity or denial, but to trust Him. He can well afford to call
us to silent endurance. The briefest look at Jesus in His Passion can
affirm His rights there. There was never a greater injustice done
than that, nor was there ever a victim so innocent and completely
undeserving of all that brutality.
Why is the "silent mind" such a big deal? Because you cannot get
anywhere spiritually without one. Your focus will be shattered. The
messy bit here is that your focus can be shattered by things
apparently worthwhile- the devil, after all is no fool.
We can be tricked into spinning our wheels and expending all our
emotional and spiritual energy on dead ends that look noble, or on
things that truly are noble, but should not absorb all of our efforts or
attention. We can distort our necessary caring and charity into anger
and rage at injustice that does nothing other than perpetrate anger
and rage in more religious attire. Big mistake there!
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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