Holy Rule for Apr. 4
Prayers for the eternal rest of the following, for all their loved ones and all who mourn them:
Stanley, who has died.
Elizabeth, on the anniversary of her death, special prayers for her granddaughter, Jane, too.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical healthof the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
M., for perseverance in her drug rehab, for her family and for her new job.
June, having heart problems and for her daughters.
Charlotte, offering prayers of thanksgiving for her much needed scholarship to go to university in the autumn, prayers, too for persverance and success in her studies.
Edward, recently sent on his third "tour" to Afghanistan. Edward is in bomb disposal and his family are worried. Please pray for the safe return of Edward and all the men and women doing their best to serve their country in a difficult place/situation.
Chata, unknown illness. She has been to many doctors for treatment for some seriously debilitating mystery illness. Please pray for some sort of diagnosis so she can then weigh treatment options.
Lynne, still suffering serious mental health problems - suffering being the correct term. Prayers for everyone suffering from mental health issues, and those who care for/ try to help them.
B, seriously needing to lose weight. She is virtually off her feet now (M.S.) and is unable to exercise due to fatigue, back problems, etc., so her weight is slowly but surely creeping up from a hard-fought weight loss. Her husband, who pushes her wheelchair, is not a large man, also he has a bad back and tennis elbow.
Bill, 69, who has recently been diagnosed with glaucoma, that it does not worsen and impede his sight.
Beverly, surgery for multiple hernias.
Special intention Arjahn,Ben, Henrietta and JS. . conversion of life for B.
Deo gratias for past prayers answered.
A blessed feastday for our Br. Isidore, prayers and graces galore!
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.
April 4, August 4, December 4
Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests
Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
for He is going to say,
"I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.
As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
let the Superior or the brethren meet him
with all charitable service.
And first of all let them pray together,
and then exchange the kiss of peace.
For the kiss of peace should not be offered
until after the prayers have been said,
on account of the devil's deceptions.
In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
let all humility be shown.
Let the head be bowed
or the whole body prostrated on the ground
in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.
After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
and then let all kindness be shown him.
The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
unless it happens to be a principal fast day
which may not be violated.
The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
"We have received Your mercy, O God,
in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).
In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
for as far as the rich are concerned,
the very fear which they inspire
wins respect for them.
So much is written about Benedictine hospitality that I thought,
after over ten years as guestmaster, I'd write about some of the
things it is NOT, since people sometimes seem confused by this. Yes,
we are told to receive all as Christ, but at the onset a salient
difference or two between Christ Himself and the guests becomes
evident. Christ was sinless, Christ was not a threat to others,
Christ was perfect in mind and body and soul.
One of the first things that happened when the care of the guesthouse
was entrusted to me was the receipt of a list of people who in no way
were ever to be accepted again. For one reason or another, the
community absolutely did not want them here again. A few- very few-
more added themselves to that list in my time. It is useful to
note that in every case these people put either themselves or others
or both at risk for one reason or another. There were some the
monastics were downright afraid of, others whom other guests would
have feared had they only known.
One absolutely stunned into silence an entire group of retreatants of
which she was not a member by an outburst of verbally violent abuse
and belligerence that none had seen coming at all. She really ruined
the retreat for them, destroyed everyone's peace and the peace of the
house. Everyone walked on eggs for the rest of the weekend. Sorry,
doesn't happen here twice.
Another guest used to come here on the bus immediately after
discharge from psychiatric facilities. He was a potential violence
threat and would stop taking his meds on discharge, thinking he could
come to the monastery and "get it all together." Obviously,
disastrously, what happened was quite the reverse and we finally had
to say that we would never accept him again without the opportunity
and freedom to speak with his psychiatrist. He has not been back. We
were not at all doing him any good, we were actually helping him harm
himself. Couldn't do that.
One can demonstrate this principle clearly by going even a notch
above the guesthouse: come to join the monastery addicted to
disrupting the peace and you will be escorted out, probably well
People do not enjoy Benedictine hospitality as an always
and everywhere right. As in any human area, the rights of others must
be considered and sometimes decisively so. A monastery is a haven of
peace, but it has to take steps to ensure that it remains that for as
many as possible.
One of those steps is the hospitality of saying "No more." It is not easy,
it cannot be done hastily, but it is loving.
A lot of discernment is required before one gets to this point, but when one
sadly does, courage and strength are also necessary. As Dorothy Day so
often said, "Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, of each of us,
but it is the only answer."
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,