Holy Rule for Feb. 2
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of the following, for all their families and all who mourn them:
Jim, 68, on his birthday, he died without the Sacraments.
Shirley, 65, and for all her family, esp. Elaine
Betty, who died from a brain tumor.
Prayers for the spiritual,mental and physical health of th following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Rosy, trouble with her neighbors, that things will settle down and she and her neighbors will learn to live peacefully next to each other.
The parents of Amy, that they may find ways to help her. Prayers that the Holy Spirit will give them the help to know how to help her. Prayers, too, for Amy, undergoing a long struggle.
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 2, June 3, October 3
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fifth degree of humility
is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts
that enter his heart
or the sins committed in secret,
but that he humbly confess them.
The Scripture urges us to this when it says,
"Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him" (Ps. 36:5)
"Confess to the Lord, for He is good,
for His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 105:1).
And the Prophet likewise says,
"My offense I have made known to You,
and my iniquities I have not covered up.
I said: 'I will declare against myself my iniquities to the Lord;'
and 'You forgave the wickedness of my heart'" (Ps. 31:5).
To hide one's symptoms from one's physician is to court misdiagnosis.
If you lie to your therapist, why bother with analysis? Both these
tactics obscure illness rather than produce health. The "health" they
seek is nothing more than a falsehood, an illusion based on an
It is natural for us to wish to wish that parents and abbots think
the best of us. It is supernatural to want them to know the truth
when they need to know it to help us. That "natural" tendency in us,
however, is founded on a very unlovely kink: the desire to ALWAYS
look good, ALWAYS seem in control, even when we are floundering in
deep trouble. If parents or bosses or abbots think very highly of us,
this temptation is even stronger; we'd rather not burst their bubble,
we think it is to our advantage not to do so.
The monastery is a school of the Lord's service, but it is a hospital
of sorts, too. When we place ourselves under the care of the Holy
Rule and an abbot, we have admitted our need for care, for treatment,
for progress. Why deny ourselves any of those things now? I'm not
sure, but I'll bet there are tons of easy ways to fake one's way out
of chemical dependency treatment. Why bother? Unlike many in
substance abuse treatment, we came to Benedictinism of our own accord.
In Eastern monasticism, the tradition is for the disciple to confess
thoughts to the elder every day. This is considered a crucially
important part of monastic formation. It humbles the disciple and it
leaves the elder in a much better position to train and advise.
Granted, with many monastics in and out of house, most abbots would
be unable to do this daily, but every monastic needs a confessor or
spiritual director or spiritual co-struggler who can really know
what's going on in their souls.
Parents know how it feels when a child has need of them and never
lets them know. It is an awful feeling and often the child's reasons
(like fear or deceit,) for keeping them in the dark hurt even more.
No parent, no boss and no abbot is perfect. They are all human and
flawed, just like us. However, when we avoid trusting them with some
of our dark side, we cheat ourselves of a chance to see their
greatness called forth in compassion, mercy and wisdom.
Balance, common sense and moderation obtain here, too. It is one
thing not to tell one's abbot or boss something because one wishes to
be thought well of, quite another to realize that some things, when
there truly is no need to tell them, are best left unsaid. As Father
Damian of St. Leo is fond of saying: "The truth is not always
nourishing." However, SOMEONE needs to know: a spiritual director
or confessor. We are too weak to trod the path alone and far too
prideful. Let's not miss the chance of humbling ourselves.
Family life, in either monastery or home church, must be founded on
truth and reality to be healthy. All of us have seen flaming examples
of dysfunction when it is not. Even though sometimes a mother will
say: "For heaven's sake, don't tell your father!" there has to be
SOME connection with reality. Not only is humility the reality of
truth, but Jesus, too is the Truth. Why on earth bother seeking Him
if we don't want Truth? Let this truth, however, always be told in
gentleness and charity. There is a difference between the virtue of
honesty and the vice of brutal frankness, as my confessor, Fr. Roger,
used to say.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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,