Holy Rule for Mar. 15
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved one and all who take care of them:
Mrs. J., pancreatic cancer
Mrs. W., congestive heart failure
Jesisca, court date to try and get protection from her abusive ex-boyfriend and for her job search and her 8 year old daughter.
George, training for a new job.
Dot, 80's, suspicious area on her mammogram, had a mastectomy 3 years ago. Also has maular degeneration and had a reaction to the last treatment.
Genny, Michael LoPiccolo's wife of 53 years, on her 71st birthday.
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 15, July 15, November 14
Chapter 36: On the Sick
Before all things and above all things, care must be taken of the
sick, so that they will be served as if they were Christ in person;
for He Himself said, "I was sick, and you visited Me" (Matt 25:36),
and, "What you did for one of these least ones, you did for Me"
But let the sick on their part consider that they are being served
for the honor of God, and let them not annoy their sisters who are
serving them by their unnecessary demands. Yet they should be
patiently borne with, because from such as these is gained a more
abundant reward. Therefore the Abbess shall take the greatest care
that they suffer no neglect.
For these sick let there be assigned a special room and an
attendant who is God-fearing, diligent and solicitous. Let the use
of baths be afforded the sick as often as may be expedient; but to
the healthy, and especially to the young, let them be granted more
Moreover, let the use of meat be granted to the sick who are very
weak, for the restoration of their strength; but when they are
convalescent, let all abstain from meat as usual.
The Abbess shall take the greatest care that the sick be not
neglected by the cellarers or the attendants; for she also is
responsible for what is done wrongly by her disciples.
Visitors quite characteristically remark on the peace of
Benedictine monasteries. They surely ought to be able to notice
something very different from the world at large, something would
probably be very wrong with the house if none could. On the other
hand, no matter how politely we may respond to those who exclaim
how peaceful things are, I'll bet that most monastic hearts- and
maybe all- sinkingly say: "Yeah, but you don't LIVE here..."
My dear theology professor, Dr. Jean Ronan, used to always
say: "The mills of God grind slowly, yet exceeding fine...." She
meant that in a karma sort of way, what goes around comes around
sooner or later. However, today's reading and life in community
have taught me to see an additional meaning. The mills of God truly
DO turn very slowly. Sometimes their windmill blades are barely
stirred by a hesitant breeze. No wonder that outsiders and first-
time visitors cannot notice them grinding the wheat!
Ah, denied the fall-into-the-ground-and-die brand of outright
martyrdom, our grains of wheat must be ground into flour, a process
of immolation no less complete, but most uncomfortably slower! (St.
Teresa of Avila said that the martyrs "bought Heaven cheaply"
winning with one swing of the axe what we must struggle on many
years to acquire.)
Don't make the mistake of looking only at the beauty of the ripe
wheat swaying gently in the breeze and sunlight and the smoothness
of a sack of pre-sifted flour. Between those two comes a LOT of the
grindstone! To say nothing of the sickle at first...oh, yeah, and
that winnowing part- I almost forgot.
What on earth does all this have to do with care of the sick? Ah,
you have been patient and that is commendable. Take heart, the
point of all this is at hand.
The borders between sickness and meanness and evil are often
blurred to indistinguishable levels. One age posited demons for
epilepsy, our own sees exculpating psychological illness or
impairment behind all manner of things. We have too little
time, in many cases, to waste a lot of time with thorny and perhaps
impossible diagnoses. In charity, we are usually obliged to assume
that the meanest of people are simply not well. We do, after all,
have to think the best of people.
That can be terribly maddening. We often want to ascribe blame when hurt
or wronged. Every flawed human nerve in our body can begin to
cry: "No quarter, no mercy!" Gee, in a flawed human way of
speaking, wouldn't it be nice if we could! But we can't, we simply
cannot. If we do, we become so unlike the mercy of Christ, the love
of God, that our souls are in very great peril. This can sabotage
our spiritual struggles in nothing flat.
Hence, the care of the sick comes very much into play with the way
we deal with those who hurt or harm us. This is a far different
affair from being a passive doormat for the world.
Hey, all of us are nice, good people in our own eyes much of the
time. Our biggest gaffs are usually those to which we are all but
completely blind. We must realize that this is not just true of
ourselves, but of others as well. And, perhaps most difficult of
all, we must see that sometimes WE are the ones who really need to
be in the waiting room for treatment, so to speak... Sigh... Ain't
life and humility grand?
Hence, whenever a relationship or person truly does require
remediation, we must behave as we would like to be treated in the
same circumstance. Compassion, love and gentle kindness, not
patronization or scorn or abrupt roughness must rule the day. Many
of us have experienced both the kind of nurse one loved and the kind
that one would gladly forget if one could! Which sort of treatment
do you wish to give?
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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