Holy Rule for Mar. 27
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 27, July 27, November 26
Chapter 47: On Giving the Signal for the Time of the Work of God
The indicating of the hour for the Work of God
by day and by night
shall devolve upon the Abbot
either to give the signal himself
or to assign this duty to such a careful brother
that everything will take place at the proper hours.
Let the Psalms and the antiphons be intoned
by those who are appointed for it,
in their order after the Abbot.
And no one shall presume to sing or read
unless he can fulfill that office
in such a way as to edify the hearers.
Let this function be performed
with humility, gravity and reverence,
and by him whom the Abbot has appointed.
A quickie here that applies to all, in monastery or out. It sometimes
happens that we desire a job we ought not to have. It sometimes
happens that we get a job that is too much for us and realize that in
the midst of things. These are times for the great truthfulness of
humility, to either stop seeking the task in question or to frankly
admit that we cannot do it as it should be done.
Such honesty is hard, to be sure. Our hearts get in the way. We are
attached to things which are in themselves good, but which would not
be good for us. Not everyone would make a great parent, but there are
plenty of people who want to be badly, whether in fact they would be
good at it or not! Whoops! Tough on the kid there! There are also
people who would be superb parents who cannot be, yet another
thing to be accepted truthfully.
Anyone who has ever seen karaoke or open mike night or a piano bar
knows that MANY who would love to be cabaret singers are far from
that! What our hearts call us to is not always true, alas! Perhaps
most of us have also known people who would have been fantastic
spouses who are quite inexplicably alone.
A big part of discerning here is careful, frank self-examination and
self-knowledge. Another huge piece of the puzzle is looking at where
we REALLY are and where God has presumably placed us. Not everything
is open to every age, place or time. Were I to decide that I
absolutely HAD to become a flamingo farmer in central New England,
the flamingoes would be MOST unhappy by next December or so, and most
likely all dead well before February! See what I mean?
Because our hearts are involved, there is pain when the thing desired
is not for us. That is hard, beloveds, but pain need not be futile or
useless. Unite your pains to those of Christ and His Mystical Body,
to those of His Passion that all of us help bear throughout the rest
of time. Then the Father will see only His beloved Son when He looks
at us. Then the world will be somehow better and helped by our
suffering, mute and unknown. Nothing is wasted with God and His
Divine Mercy. Nothing! Nothing at all!
A very significant postscript to all this: it is ourselves we should be
looking at. Rarely, if ever, should we feel called upon to deliver such a
message of being out of place to another. There are superiors and
bosses for that in most instances, and self-appointed arbiters of
anything and everything are quite frequently a pitiable lot.
Love and prayers and don't waste suffering, y'all!
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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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