Holy Rule for Mar. 12
Urgent prayers needed:
Japan was hit by a 8.9 earthquake a few hours ago that has resulted in major damage, injuries, loss of life and then the northern island was hit by a tsunami that caused even more damage and most likely loss of more lives. Reports say that most of Tokyo is without power. A tsunami warning has been issued for the west coast of all the Hawaiian Islands and warning sirens have already begun to go off. Pray for all who have been and will be affected by the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami and for all trying to 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 12, July 12, November 11
Chapter 34: Whether All Should Receive in Equal Measure What Is
Let us follow the Scripture,
"Distribution was made to each
according as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35).
By this we do not mean that there should be respecting of persons
(which God forbid),
but consideration for infirmities.
She who needs less should thank God and not be discontented;
but she who needs more
should be humbled by the thought of her infirmity
rather than feeling important
on account of the kindness shown her.
Thus all the members will be at peace.
Above all, let not the evil of murmuring appear
for any reason whatsoever
in the least word or sign.
If anyone is caught at it,
let her be placed under very severe discipline.
I came here in June of 1996 as a professed diocesan hermit who
was an Oblate. From the beginning, I lived in the guesthouse,
because caring for the guesthouse was the mutual arrangement under
which I moved here from Boston. From day one that meant all kinds of
exceptions with permission for me. My life in a Boston rectory had
been very different from my brothers' lives here. My superior told me
to pretty much bring the life I had with me and make adjustments as
necessary after I arrived.
Well, it's astounding at how few adjustments got made... at least by
me. It was my brothers who accepted the exceptions. The grace and
charity with which they did so was- and continues to be- an
outstanding example of how this chapter can be lived. Not only did
they not murmur (I quite expected that they might,) they simply loved
me, took me for the stray and loser and roaring exception that I am
without further ado. It humbled me then and it humbles me still. I
stand in awe of my brothers, every single one of whom is younger (in
age, not profession,) than me. They are vastly better monks. I
probably couldn't live their life exactly for more than 20 minutes or
so. That does not matter to them. I do. Wow!
That can really make one deeply grateful and yes, my infirmities do
humble me and no, I don't feel important because of the kindness they
show me. I feel only gratuitous love, richly undeserved. That, my
friends is what we get from God, and that is what all our communities
should be giving to the weak ones in our midst. In home, work, school
or cloister we should all be giving the strugglers what I have
Our Congregation requires a legal contract between Community and
Oblate for claustral oblation. Hence, when I transferred everything
here and dropped the diocesan connection, the Chapter formally
approved my embarrassing life of exceptions. I used to think that the
exceptions were all that could be seen, but I know that's not true.
My brothers see Jerome, that's all. Nothing more, nothing less. By
their loving deeds they freely accord me a fullness and equality of
membership that I would never dream of demanding, and they do so
repeatedly. It is they who remind me that I belong here, not the
other way around! They never remind me in a patronizing way, either.
It's more like: "DUH?! You're one of us, you know!" And I am, I
really am, but only by God's grace and that of my brothers, nothing
at all of me.
How I wish all of you could get to know my Community. If you saw them
in action (and me in INaction!) it would preach a far more eloquent
sermon on this chapter than anything I could ever write. By the way,
I surely am accepted by my sisters here, too, but I chose to write
today of the closer ties I have with my own community of brothers.
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. Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Andrew, OSB, on his feastday.
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 Jamie D., that she will pass all the exams in relation to her application to UK.
Prayers for the happy death of Susan H., she has cancer, an inoperable tumor and is too weak for treatment. She may not make it until Christmas, but is in denial. She is not in a good relationship with God or her family. Prayers of healing and peace, please! Divine Mercy Chaplets, especially, for a happy death.
Prayers for the eternal rest of James C., a young man who died after years in a coma after a motorcycle accident, and for all his family and all who mourn him, especially his uncle, Fr. Paul.
Prayers for the health of Patti F., diagnosed with myelofibrosis which is a very rare bone marrow illness related to leukemia. She asks for prayers (not for a cure - there isn't one in her case,) but for energy and stamina to do the things this year she and her husband, Ernie, have already planned. Prayers for her happy death when God chooses to call her. Prayers for Ernie and all who will mourn her.
Prayers for Brittany. She found a painful lump in her right breast. It might be a blocked milk duct, as she is breastfeeding and that is quite common.
Prayers for Martin, rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. A CAT scan revealed a large mass near the pancreas.
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.
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,