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,
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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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