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Holy Rule for Mar. 2

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Continued prayers for Anne, who is not out of the woods yet and may have a long recovery ahed, also for her husband, John. Prayers for the eternal rest of
    Message 1 of 138 , Mar 1, 2011
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      Continued prayers for Anne, who is not out of the woods yet and may have a long recovery ahed, also for her husband, John.

      Prayers for the eternal rest of Jim, who died suddenly of a heart attack. Also his family, his large extended family, particularly his brother Tim, and their elderly parents who are suffering with this loss and for all who mourn him.

      March 2, July 2, November 1
      Chapter 25: On Weightier Faults

      Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault be excluded both
      from the table and from the oratory. Let none of the brethren join
      him either for company or for conversation.
      Let him be alone at the work assigned him, abiding in penitential
      sorrow and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle where he
      says that a man of that kind is handed over
      for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in
      the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). Let him take his meals alone in
      the measure and at the hour which the Abbot shall consider suitable
      for him. He shall not be blessed by those who pass by, nor shall
      the food that is given him be blessed.

      REFLECTION

      Justice demands that the punishment fit the crime, and St. Benedict
      gives the two points between which a spectrum of other methods may
      be employed. He does not want a one-size-fits-all system of
      correction and clearly says so more than once.

      Think of any parent or authority figure you have ever heard
      criticized. If punishment was in any way involved, it is most
      likely that the fault was in doing too much or too little. A cruel
      person can make employees or children or monastics live in terror.
      Punishment is relentless and swift and often comes without warning.

      This may result in slavish compliance or outright rebellion, but it
      never results in a healthy self, for authority or subject. We are
      not called to live in dread of unwittingly angering some
      intransigent despot, whose whims may be dangerous, indeed. We are
      called to live
      in peace and mercy: to receive it and to give it to others. That is
      true of all monastics, superiors and those governed.

      But we are not called to peace at any price whatsoever, which is
      the fault of those who do too little to correct. Fear of the
      governed is as stupid and pointless as fear of the governor and
      neither helps anyone. While too much control may lead the community
      to fear the
      Abbess, too little will leave them equally afraid of each other!

      Note carefully that the missing ingredients in either extreme are
      love, real charity, as well as a trusting prayer for grace and
      guidance. If we are not showing
      His love to all, something is very wrong. If mercy does not temper
      justice (and justice does not temper total inaction!) something is
      quite amiss.

      Really peaceful people do not avoid confrontation at all costs, if
      they do, even they will never have peace. They will have nothing
      more than an uneasy truce or more or less perpetual fear. That is not
      the loving way to deal with a problem.

      The Benedictine way is, as usual, the middle way. Some would put
      down the middle way, call it weak, but, as we have seen, it takes a
      tremendous amount of guts and grace to do it well. Our way is quite
      the reverse of a cop-out: it requires genuine courage and grace, to
      say nothing of its chief component, a lot of very frank and
      truthful LOVE! Ah, yes, and that mercy which is a mirror of the
      Divine Mercy, too!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA


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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 138 of 138 , Apr 10, 2011
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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.

        REFLECTION

        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
        they
        are not seeking God, seeking to go deeper into Him. To do so would be
        folly.

        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA


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