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,
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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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