Non-Leap Year catching up
Since this year is not a Leap Year, a reading got skipped that
should have been appended to the 28th. Here it is:
February 29, June 30, October 30
Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults
(If there is no 29th of Feburary, append this entry to the previous.)
If a brother is found to be obstinate,
or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
If he fails to amend,
let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be placed under excommunication,
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
if he is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.
It is sad, indeed, that a chapter like this ever had to be written,
sad in St. Benedict's time, sad in our own. How little human beings
change in some ways! Why on earth would anyone come to a monastic
struggle with an attitude that says: "I know better. I'm right and
they're wrong."? Why would anyone persist in staying with such an
Because they are blind. It's another favorite trick of Satan.
or clouded assessments of the reality at hand are his forte.
Especially when these phony lenses get applied to religious matters,
the obstinacy and self-righteousness can go to extremes.
Look, beloveds, every single one of us, from the newest Oblate
candidate to the Abbot Primate, came to the monastic life, to the
Holy Rule, to be CHANGED. We came to learn, not to teach. We came to
reform ourselves, not the monastery. We not only arrived with that
attitude, we must keep it all of our lives. We came to surrender,
That's why this chapter is both so very sad and so very important.
The monastic at any point in life who has renounced that attitude of
discipleship has abandoned the struggle. We must hope it is a
temporary abandonment, because it can be fatal to one's vocation. It
can undo all the good work we have behind us. It can delude us into
thinking we are persevering when we have actually long ago quit.
Superiors and community (or family!) can be a big reality check here
and that is what this chapter seeks to provide. Gentleness, love and
tact are in order, but something must be done. One must be very
careful at such times not to lord it over another smugly. But one
must also be very careful not to do nothing at all, especially if
is in authority. The risk to the falling member is too great to
If, alas, you find yourself to be that falling member, for heaven's
sake (quite literally!) LISTEN. That is such a Benedictine trait,
Holy Rule begins with that word. If others are that upset, there may
well be something wrong. Don't deny it. Check it out with all the
humility you can muster, but be very aware that your humility may
well be the thing that is currently terribly impaired. Be as honest
as truthful as you can. Try, try with all your strength, to let
yourself always be changed for the good, and strive to see that
even when it is hard.
If you are one of the lucky ones not in this leaking boat, be deeply
humbled and grateful to God. Pray every day for all of those in the
Order, the Church, the world, who are sinking. They need our prayers
badly. Think how different the Titanic might have been with enough
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,