Holy Rule for Mar. 25
A blessed Solemnity of the Annunciation to all, let us all pray for each other!
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Beth, detached retina needs surgery ASAP, a host of medical problems, orthopedic, spinal and dental, but no insurance and financially straightened, she is also recovering from an unwanted divorce this year, a LOT on her plate.
Tim, as he tries for a position in wind power, and that he be able to meet his basic financial needs.
Michael, on his birthday, graces and blessings galore and many more.
Pat, still on chemo for a while.
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.
March 25, July 25, November 24
Chapter 45: On Those Who Make Mistakes in the Oratory
When anyone has made a mistake
while reciting a Psalm, a responsory,
an antiphon or a lesson,
if he does not humble himself there before all
by making a satisfaction,
let him undergo a greater punishment
because he would not correct by humility
what he did wrong through carelessness.
But boys for such faults shall be whipped.
Calm down, we don't whip anybody anymore. It has too often been my
experience that such lines push all the buttons of some readers these
days and blind them to the rest of the good stuff there. We don't
whip now, they did 1,500 years ago, everyone else did, too. Let's not get so
mired in the sensitivities of our own time that we forget how terribly recent
some of them are. (Just try to breathe normally... paramedics will be here
any minute now. Maybe we can get that dosage adjusted and you won't
have these terrible fugues anymore, hmmm? LOL!)
As I mentioned before, in our house we do kneel in the center when
late for choir, then bow to the superior and go to our place. We also bow
to the superior when late to table. We kneel when we make audible
mistakes in Church. And yes, those things can be very useful.
But most Oblates do not have a refectory or choir to kneel in, so
what's here for the majority of us? The grace of humility, without
which communal life on any level, in monastery, workplace, market or
home would be unlivable. Check out some of the lyrics of Shaker
hymns, other than the famous "'Tis a Gift to Be Simple." They feature
LOADS of messages about getting along with others. One speaks of
not being stubborn like the oak, but of being like the willow who can bend!
Every single human community or whatever sort is going to have its
share of strays, fumblers and crosses. Every one without fail
will mirror in some sense the fallen brokenness of humanity. Our job
is to see to it that we are part of the solution, not part of the
problem. When, through whatever means, we become part of the problem,
we must own up to it at once and smooth it over as best and as
quickly as we can.
If you can't say "I'm sorry.", start
practicing alone in front of a mirror until the words can somehow
tumble out in public. Until they can, try some useful (though not
perfect,) substitutes, like "Forgive me," or "It was my fault." Work
on words of forgiveness, too, like: "It doesn't matter," or "Oh,
Strive to make light of things. There will never be any
shortage whatever of people who will explode and magnify things out
of all rational proportion, so don't duplicate services! Join the
minority and try to prevent hurricanes in teacups, rather than
Most outrage, most lack of apology, most tempests in teacups stem
from a distorted an unhealthy view of the self. Humility corrects
that imbalance. While you're in front of the mirror practicing
apology, why not try a bit of self-interview?
Why do these things or persons upset you so? What do you have in
common with those who annoy you most? Most important, just who are
you that your perceived slights are such a big deal? Try reminding
yourself that He is God and you are not. Honest reflection on these points
may be a big and promising start.
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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