Holy Rule for Apr. 9
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of 250 migrants who drowned when the boat they were fleeing Libya on capsized in the Mediterranean. Some of those lost were children, Prayers for all who mourn them, too, and for an end to violence in Libya.
Deo gratias Julianna is home and doing well. Thank you for your prayers.
Michele, for whose happy death we prayed, rallied remarkably for a time, then her systems shut down and she died. Perhaps those few days were necessary to her happy death, in any event, prayers for her eternal rest and for all her family and all who mourn her.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 9, August 9, December 9
Chapter 56: On the Abbess's Table
Let the Abbess's table always be with the guests
and the pilgrims. But when there are no guests,
let it be in her power to invite whom she will of the sisters.
Yet one or two seniors must always be left with the others
for the sake of discipline.
Let me give you a bit of pragmatic application here. I don't know if
this is true everywhere, but in both houses I have actually lived in,
the monks tended to eat rather fast. Secularly speaking, I have a
reputation for being a fast eater when dining alone, though I have
sometimes wondered about how good that is for digestion! Here,
however, with no conversation to slow me down at all, the monks eat
like the wind and I am usually the last one, even when gulping down as
fast as I can.
Anyway, the upshot here is that guests often dine more slowly than
the monastics and we all get up together for grace. If the guests are
where the Abbot can see them, it is easier to check on who's done and
who isn't. We wait for them to finish. (At least 99% of the time. I
have known especially slow guests to win at this face-off once or
twice! We finally just said grace and left them to finish...)
Monastics (like children or spouses!) can be dreadful creatures of
habit, you should pardon the pun... I can tell you that sometimes
that waiting seems interminable. I can also tell you that it is good
for us, for all of us, and this applies equally to families. We
allow, even enable the guest to inconvenience us to a certain extent.
That's part of our hospitality, part of receiving Christ, sometimes in a
considerably distressing disguise.
Oblates in families, trust me on this one, I know company can
sometimes be a pain. The message here
is not only for guests in our homes, but for others in general, at
work, when shopping or (horrors!) driving. Let others put you out a
bit. Adopt a courtesy that is greater than the world's.
I used to work the desk in a public library. From that and from my
hospital and teaching years, I can tell you that a courteous,
hospitable, Christian attitude of charity can stand out, really touch
people. You don't have to be obnoxiously preachy, in fact, that can have
the opposite effect!
The subtle grace and love of courtesy will lead a lot of people to
wonder about you and what motivates you. Some of the braver ones
will one day even ask. And there is your chance! Go slowly and gently,
but tell them why.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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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