Holy Rule for Mar. 1
Prayers of thanksgving and Deo gratias for the lives of the following, and for their coming years to be filled wiith grace:
Sandy, who is celebrating her 50th birthday. May God bless her and keep her as she continues her life journey.
Richard's Mom, who is turning 90. Special thanks to God that she has her mental faculties and and cope with her ailments, also prayers for the Sisters of St. Joseph and other folks who staff her nursing home.
Prayers, please, for my Dad, Jerome, on the 51st anniversary of his death (it
was actually Leap Year day, so most years that figures out to the 1st of Mar.) For
his eternal rest.
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
March 1, July 1, October 31
Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be
The measure of excommunication or of chastisement should correspond
to the degree of fault, which degree is estimated by the judgment
of the Abbess.
If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults, let her be excluded
from the common table. Now the program for one deprived of the
company of the table shall be as follows: In the oratory she shall
intone neither Psalm nor antiphon nor shall she recite a lesson
until she has made satisfaction; in the refectory she shall take
her food alone after the community meal,
so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance, that sister
shall eat at the ninth,
while if they eat at the ninth hour she shall eat in the evening,
until by a suitable satisfaction she obtains pardon.
Let's face it, St. Benedict has a lot to say about excommunication-
a clumsy term, perhaps, because people often assume it means
excommunication from the Church, which is the only sense of the
word we commonly have today. It does not, of course mean that, just
a punishment of exclusion from certain community functions.
Let's face something else, at least in this chapter. Fasting an
extra three hours might not be lovely, but no intoning in choir?
What bad news! Gosh... Even many of us who CAN sing would look at
that as a nice break!
And eating alone? Well, the extra fast was a drag, but I sure
missed that reader and the tedious book we've been reading.
What awful luck!
See the difference in perception a millennium or so can make? That
may be a large part of why the penal code is not followed today:
some of its punishments simply make little sense to modern
monastics, some seem mean, and others (as above,) seem like
The rest of this applies with great ease to family situations,
marital situations and the workplace. Something must be gleaned
from all this legislation for punishment: the one at fault must be
told when something is wrong. That, after all, is the only reason
for punishment, to be a wake up call to the less than brilliant.
Unfortunately, the monastic hatred of personal confrontation
endemic in our ranks assumes
sufficient brilliance for all to sooner or later figure out that
they are amiss. It just ain't so, folks, sorry! Things fester when
they go ignored for years. Things that someone should have dealt
with gently, but firmly and even summarily, in formation or
childhood, torture the family in later years.
Look, it is hard, VERY hard, to confront a predictably stubborn or
difficult child or monastic or spouse or employee.
It's easy to see why one would rather not do so. But the Holy Rule
asks many things that are difficult of us, and this one is
for the good of all, both the offender and the offended. The false
charity that omits to make
these difficult corrections goes a long way to making everyone's
life awful in the future.
Also, in workplace especially, bear in mind that the authority
figure here is the abbot, not the rank and file. One dare not
assume all those prerogatives as a peer and equal. Fraternal
correction will get a chapter of its own later on, but it is not a
mantle to be assumed lightly. We must beware of the other extreme:
becoming universal policing agents for all and sundry. A tiny spark
of Gestapo flickers in many human hearts. Do nothing
to fan the flame!
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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