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,
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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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