Holy Rule for Apr. 2
Prayers, please, for Father Richard Kissi, the diocesan director of Caritas in Abidjan, was kidnapped by an armed group in the midst of violent conflict in various parts of Ivory Coast.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Melinda, wife of Bernard "Bo", she died Wednesday after a very brief, but seriously critical illness. Prayers for al her family and all who mourn her.
Deo gratias, Vince's special intention was granted, prayers of thanksgiving!
Prayers, please, for Chauncey, significant dental problems and recovery from Cancer surgery, and the hope that the removal of a kidney and the prostate will end that threat, and also for his parents in their 80's with whom he is staying to help with care giving.
Prayers, please, for Wilson who has just had major back surgery to stabilize an old injury from his time in the Marines. He is now permanently disabled and asking for prayer that his petition for VA benefits be approved.
Terry, around 64 years old. She was treated for breast cancer about 7 years ago (her grandmother died of breast cancer) and now it is back, she will be starting treatments within a week.
Also for Pat and everyone who is travelling to Hawaii, April 5th - 13th, for safe travels and a wonderful trip for all.
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
+++++ Thanks to our reader, Sue, who tipped me off to the hi-tech kindle way of saying the Office away:
Some may be able to have a kindle, or another e-reader. The Office can be downloaded in full and there it is, the page ready, a snack of a psalm, a responsary even, at the ready at the press of a button. It fits in a handbag or big pocket and it's present at all times. Yes, it makes our desire easy especially when we're weak!
April 2, August 2, December 2
Chapter 51: On Brethren Who Go Not Very Far Away
A Brother who is sent out on some business
and is expected to return to the monastery that same day
shall not presume to eat while he is out,
even if he is urgently requested to do so
by any person whomsoever,
unless he has permission from his Abbot.
And if he acts otherwise, let him be excommunicated.
Coming right on the heels of the prescription to say the Office while
away, it is easy to see that these two chapters are not just about
eating and praying. The principle involved here is that one's
monastic commitment does not switch off when one leaves the property.
It is there all the time.
Parents can identify with this readily. Children are not told to
avoid drugs only at home. The moral values that parents try to
instill are a way of life that (hopefully!) will be carried with the
child in every situation. My high school promised that students who
failed our standards AFTER school hours, on the way home, would be
punished. If they were wearing our uniform, they were expected to
reflect a certain standard of behavior.
What St. Benedict is doing is pointing out that monasticism is not
merely a job, a burden one doffs and dons. Monastic life is a
becoming, not a set of standards one only follows when one is closely
watched. The goal of monastic discipline is to make the disciple a
monk more or less by nature. In this respect, it closely resembles
any training: nursing school is designed to make people nurses, law
school to make attorneys, and so forth. The difference is that
monasticism is not a set number of hours per week, it's all the week,
all the life. Just as any nurse in a disaster instantly can shift
into nursing mode, whether on duty or not, the spiritually trained
monastic is operative everywhere, not just in the cloister.
This is a fine and consoling point for Oblates who must live abroad.
Lovely though our monasteries may be, they are not what makes
monastics. That is something deep within, a cloister of our hearts
that we must learn to carry with us everywhere. Lots of people who
must live in crowded and noisy cities actually do a better job of
this than many monastics who live in rural peace. Take heart! It is
not all about place. It is about heart, always heart. Train and fix
your heart and you will always be fine!
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.
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 the safety all the people, property, buildings and animals threatened by extreme fires in Tennessee. Many fires are being fought, prayers for those fighting them and trying to help.
Prayers for the people of Mosul and Aleppo, and for all in danger and crisis from fighting and war in these areas.
Prayers for Ann, who has a possible detached retina, that it can be treated successfully. She is also praying to accept God’s will, whatever that may be. The troubled retina is in the better of her eyes, so retaining vision there is very important.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Andrew and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the recovery of the 11 injured in the Ohio State University attack, one of whom is critical. Prayers, too, for the repentance and conversion of the attacker, who was killed, and prayers for his eternal rest and for the families of all.
Prayers for Val, who fell and broke her hip. She is recovering from surgery but is not doing well with uncontrolled blood pressure and is in ICU. Also prayers for her family.
Prayers for Ron, for whom we've prayed, who had open heart surgery postponed. His condition is not great and this surgery needs to happen as soon as possible.
Prayers for Chiara's return to the Church. She is doing so much helping others that she doesn't need to look far to discover Christ's presence in those she helps.
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. Also that Bev finds full time work soon.
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,