Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Holy Rule for Apr. 11

Expand Messages
  • Br. Jerome Leo
    Mea culpa, I hit send before changing the date in the subject line. I really did send out April 11 today, but it is marked as the 10. Sigh... BJL [Non-text
    Message 1 of 16 , Apr 10, 2011
    • 0 Attachment
      Mea culpa, I hit send before changing the date in the subject line. I really did send out April 11 today, but it is marked as the 10. Sigh... BJL

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers, pleae, for a baby girl (I have misplaced her name, but God knows...) 1 1/2 years old, birth defects in her hips may cause lifelong problems.
      Message 2 of 16 , Apr 11, 2011
      • 0 Attachment
        +PAX

        Prayers, pleae, for a baby girl (I have misplaced her name, but God knows...) 1 1/2 years old, birth defects in her hips may cause lifelong problems. Surgery is anticipated, she is now in a body cast; prayers for her parents, family and all who take care of her.

        Prayers for Mary Lou S., hepatitis and having a months treatment.

        Anne, whom we prayed for, will likely be moved out of ICU in the next day or so, they will then likely remove her tracheotomy, prayers for that to go smoothly, that she continue to make progress and can expel the congestion and fluid in her lungs. Prayers, too, for John, her husband and all who take care of her.

        Osacr's Mom, for whom we prayed, has died. Prayers for her eternal rest and for Oscar and all her family, snd all who mourn her. Prayers, too, for her husband, who died last month, may they both rest in peace

        Prayers for the 12 dead and 12 wounded in a Brazil shooting in a school, for all their families and all who mourn the dead, also for the gunman, who took his own life, may mercy have triumphed at the last instant.

        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 12, August 12, December 12
        Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

        When she is to be received
        she promises before all in the oratory
        stability,
        fidelity to monastic life
        and obedience.
        This promise she shall make before God and His Saints,
        so that if she should ever act otherwise,
        she may know that she will be condemned by Him whom she mocks.
        Of this promise of hers let her draw up a document
        in the name of the Saints whose relics are there
        and of the Abbess who is present.
        Let her write this document with her own hand;
        or if she is illiterate, let another write it at her request,
        and let the novice put her mark to it.
        Then let her place it with her own hand upon the altar;
        and when she has placed it there,
        let the novice at once intone this verse:
        "Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I shall live:
        and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Ps. 118[119]:116).
        Let the whole community answer this verse three times
        and add the "Glory be to the Father."
        Then let the novice prostrate herself at each one's feet,
        that they may pray for her.
        And from that day forward
        let her be counted as one of the community.
        If she has any property,
        let her either give it beforehand to the poor
        or by solemn donation bestow it on the monastery,
        reserving nothing at all for herself,
        as indeed she knows that from that day forward
        she will no longer have power even over her own body.
        At once, therefore, in the oratory,
        let her be divested of her own clothes which she is wearing
        and dressed in the clothes of the monastery.
        But let the clothes of which she was divested
        be put aside in the wardrobe and kept there.
        Then if she should ever listen to the persuasions of the devil
        and decide to leave the monastery (which God forbid),
        she may be divested of the monastic clothes and cast out.
        Her document, however,
        which the Abbess has taken from the altar,
        shall not be returned to her, but shall be kept in the monastery.

        REFLECTION

        It is thrilling to me to know that, more than 1500 years later, we
        are still doing professions in the way St. Benedict did. A few things
        added, but the elements are there: writing and signing the document,
        placing it on the altar, the Suscipe ("Receive me, O Lord...") are all
        tremendously ancient and holy rites. What a privilege we have to
        belong to such a family.

        The Church approves religious rules. This is the basis for asserting
        that our Holy Rule is inspired by the Holy Spirit, because the Church
        gave its seal of approval. The Church, however, is indubitably older
        and often wiser than monastic life. It predates every form of optional religious
        commitment. It is the blessing of the Church which makes official
        monastic life possible for any and all of us.

        This is just a prelude to saying that the wisdom of the Church long
        ago stopped people from making solemn vows, a life-long commitment
        difficult to break, right out of novitiate. Not only does this longer
        program protect people, to a certain extent, from making a mistake,
        it also spares the monastery from having a lot of misfits with chapter
        votes running the show. There are many I have known who left in
        simple vows that I remain eternally grateful for the fact that they
        were never chapter members!

        A year may well have been enough in St. Benedict's time. People had
        vastly shorter life spans, it was a bigger chunk of their lives. They
        also had to grow up more quickly and their options were fewer by far
        than those of our own day.

        Oblates, therefore, can garner a few kernels of truth in this chapter
        about commitment, that bugbear of the post-Word War II generation and
        beyond. Modern people find it terribly hard to commit, some never
        manage it at all. As such, a bit of wisdom older than our own age may
        be very useful in our everyday lives.

        Whether it's a marriage or engagement or job or volunteer chairperson
        position, don't jump at things. Read the Rule, so to speak, three
        times at least! Look, look, look as mindfully as you can at the truth
        and reality of the situation. I have a friend who suffered
        terribly in a relationship which he ALWAYS insisted was just wonderful
        and worth the effort, any effort, no matter who could see otherwise. He
        clung to this denial until he got dumped. Out of fear, he did not really
        LOOK at the situation.

        Benedictines are not people afraid of commitment, but we live in a
        world where many are. Our witness here must be care and balance. We
        must resolutely walk BETWEEN the extremes of foolhardy haste and
        crippling fear. In the world of today, that is no small witness and
        no easy task. Pull this one off, and you have a done a service to
        many, not just to yourself!

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Br. Jerome Leo
        +PAX For those so inclined: there is a movement underway to try and get as many folks as possible to pray a Rosary on Good Friday, if possible between noon and
        Message 3 of 16 , Apr 12, 2011
        • 0 Attachment
          +PAX

          For those so inclined: there is a movement underway to try and get as many folks as possible to pray a Rosary on Good Friday, if possible between noon and 3pm, for the intentions of world peace and a return of moral values in our communities.

          Anastasia, for whom we have often prayed in the past, has now decided she can't take care of her baby. This is a complex situation, too involved to explain all here, but many ardent prayers are needed and prayers for the poor baby, too.

          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 13, August 13, December 13
          Chapter 59: On the Sons of Nobles and of the Poor Who Are Offered

          If anyone of the nobility
          offers his son to God in the monastery
          and the boy is very young,
          let his parents draw up the document which we mentioned above;
          and at the oblation
          let them wrap the document itself and the body's hand in the altar
          cloth.
          That is how they offer him.

          As regards their property,
          they shall promise in the same petition under oath
          that they will never of themselves, or through an intermediary,
          or in any way whatever,
          give him anything
          or provide him with the opportunity of owning anything.
          Or else,
          if they are unwilling to do this,
          and if they want to offer something as an alms to the monastery
          for their advantage,
          let them make a donation
          of the property they wish to give to the monastery,
          reserving the income to themselves if they wish.
          And in this way let everything be barred,
          so that the boy may have no expectations
          whereby (which God forbid) he might be deceived and ruined,
          as we have learned by experience.

          Let those who are less well-to-do make a similar offering.
          But those who have nothing at all
          shall simply draw up the document
          and offer their son before witnesses at the oblation.

          REFLECTION

          It's always nice to read Chapter. 59, because it is the source of our
          having Oblates today. Thanks be to God for the myriad blessings and
          graces that have come to the Benedictine family through Oblates and
          for the graces they have received from their bonds to the Order! It
          is hard for me to imagine where we would be without Oblates.

          Those who are seen help us with labors and goods, and those who are
          unseen, help us with a treasure of prayers whose vastness we dare not
          even guess until we finally see clearly in heaven. In most cases, by
          numbers, Oblates outnumber the professed of the community, so God
          must have known how badly we needed them. It is most likely their
          prayers that kept us going all these years.

          The living and the dead, the strugglers and those already in heaven,
          help us move the great throng of our Order forward through history.
          What heaven must be like! The Oblates there are united to God,
          already freely conversant with St. Benedict, with heroes and heroines
          we can only read about. How delighted they must have been to be
          welcomed by a family far more numerous than they ever imagined.

          They were not strangers to those Benedictines of centuries past. Why?
          Because the saints of the past hold us dear throughout our time of
          trial. They already know us, they have been praying for us all along,
          even if we have not met them yet in person. When I read Anglo-Saxon
          Benedictine history, a favorite hobby of mine, I am just learning their
          names. They already know my name: they have prayed for me for years
          before I even cracked a book.

          When an Oblate joins our ranks, becoming a member of this great
          family, there are graces beyond counting in store. Ours is a family
          of saints, of great holiness. It is also a family of strugglers, the
          mediocre, the halt and lame and the beginning. The communion of
          saints is replicated in miniature in our own Order. All that great sanctity,
          past and present, comes, in the eternal now of heaven, to our aid.
          The weak are carried by the strong. It is easy to forget the miracle
          that signing one little Oblation chart on the altar effects.

          If I could (and did!) write a love song for the habit, I could write one as
          great for Oblates. How much they have changed and enriched my life,
          how deeply I find my days entwined around Oblates from all over the
          world. Prayers and insights shared back and forth, friendships that
          have sprung up in cyberspace, the wonderful gift of having others spread
          far and wide who share the journey with me, these are all gifts of grace to
          me, inestimable gifts! My life would be so much diminished without the
          gifts of light and joy, love and edification that you bring to me. Thanks so
          very, very much!!

          Thank God for our Oblates. Thank God for the chance He led St.
          Benedict to give to them and to ourselves!

          Love and prayers,
          Jerome, OSB
          http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
          Petersham, MA



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Br. Jerome Leo
          +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mentyal and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: The Oblate Study
          Message 4 of 16 , Apr 13, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
            +PAX

            Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mentyal and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

            The Oblate Study group at St. Timothy's, and their loyal friend, Fr. Bob.

            Jean, brutally beaten and raped by an unknown person at her place of work. May Jesus watch over her and her family through the days, weeks, and months ahead.

            A. N., depression and feeling the lack of extended family sorely, also stomach problems.

            Stuart, rotator cuff surgery cancelled because two masses were found on his lungs. CAT scan and lung work up pending, during which he will be hospitalized.

            Barbara, in ICU, Pneumonia &other health issues.

            RoseAnn, positive tests & no health insurance,searching for help.

            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 14, August 14, December 14
            Chapter 60: On Priests Who May Wish to Live in the Monastery

            If any ordained priest
            should ask to be received into the monastery,
            permission shall not be granted too readily.
            But if he is quite persistent in his request,
            let him know
            that he will have to observe the whole discipline of the Rule
            and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor,
            that it may be as it is written:
            "Friend, for what have you come (Matt. 26:50)?"

            It shall be granted him, however, to stand next after the Abbot
            and to give blessings and to celebrate Mass,
            but only by order of the Abbot.
            Without such order let him not make any exceptions for himself,
            knowing that he is subject to the discipline of the Rule;
            but rather let him give an example of humility to all.

            If there happens to be question of an appointment
            or of some business in the monastery,
            let him expect the rank due him
            according to the date of his entrance into the monastery,
            and not the place granted him
            out of reverence for the priesthood.

            If any clerics, moved by the same desire,
            should wish to join the monastery,
            let them be placed in a middle rank.
            But they too are to be admitted only if they promise
            observance of the Rule and stability.

            REFLECTION

            One of the quintessential questions of the Holy Rule is that of
            Jesus: "Friend, for what have you come?" This question is not just
            for priests, but for each of us, for all Christians and all monastics.
            The only acceptable answer to the question is: "To seek
            God." That might be rephrased in any of a number of ways, but that's
            the main event, the only game in town, the end all and be all of
            Benedictine monastic life.

            It is very necessary, in stating that we seek God, to admit that we
            haven't altogether found Him yet, nor will we ever do so before
            death. Even in the beatific vision of heaven itself, we creatures
            will never, ever get to the root of our Creator, to the "ground zero"
            of God. Ain't gonna happen. We will just keep going deeper and
            loving more for eternity. The more we know, the more we will love,
            but we shall never know all!

            Another way of saying this is that we need to come to the Holy Rule
            and to the Gospel and to Christ admitting how frighteningly little we
            DO know. If we think an MDiv or an MD or a BS have
            corrected that problem, even slightly, well, maybe
            that degree is just about all we've gotten from the experience.

            For heaven's sake, after spending so many years of my life trying to
            become clever, or thinking I was, what a tremendous relief it is to
            be dumb: pluperfectly, fallibly, humanly, screamingly, shriekingly
            DUMB! Boy, I love it! Ignorance truly *IS* bliss, just like they told
            ya! Truly, with Socrates, we ought to know enough to know that we
            know nothing! Realizing that the very best of us has nothing but the
            barest tip of the iceberg is a great and tender mercy, indeed!

            In one sense, I heartily recommend it. It is the only position from
            which one may learn anything at all. Get too smart (or think you
            have!) and you will never listen, failing yet another Benedictine
            hallmark. You won't learn because all your energy will go into
            composing your rejoinder or response. Such people do not learn. They
            merely joust. Life is more than that, much more. Tons more.

            Love and prayers,
            Jerome, OSB
            http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
            Petersham, MA






            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Br. Jerome Leo
            +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Judy, suffering
            Message 5 of 16 , Apr 14, 2011
            • 0 Attachment
              +PAX

              Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

              Judy, suffering from dementia, and for her husband, Jim, tirelessly caring for her. Many close family members involved.

              Dan and his family, his father passed yesterday after years of suffering after a devastating stroke.For his Dad's eternal rest and for all who mourn him.
              Bertha who is being cared for by hospice and her family- for her happy death and may she go straight to the arms of God.

              Cas and Bev on their 31st anniversary, many blessings and many more. Ad multos annos!

              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 15, August 15, December 15
              Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received

              If a pilgrim monastic coming from a distant region
              wants to live as a guest of the monastery,
              let her be received for as long a time as she desires,
              provided she is content
              with the customs of the place as she finds them
              and does not disturb the monastery by superfluous demands,
              but is simply content with what she finds.
              If, however, she censures or points out anything reasonably
              and with the humility of charity,
              let the Abbess consider prudently
              whether perhaps it was for that very purpose
              that the Lord sent her.

              If afterwards she should want to bind herself to stability,
              her wish should not be denied her,
              especially since there has been opportunity
              during her stay as a guest
              to discover her character.

              REFLECTION

              We can get so used to our lives that we are blind to areas that could
              be improved. We can get so used to doing things one way that anything
              better is beyond us. Our routines which become sacrosanct are often
              not at all that holy!

              An outsider's objective view can let us see a good deal about
              ourselves. Some things we may want to change, some we may realize are
              fine as they are. Either way, the visitor can be a reality check of
              great worth.

              One of the Desert Fathers (forgive me for not recalling which one,)
              said that there is nothing so careful as a monk not living in his
              native land. That's very true for most of us, though part two of this
              chapter makes it clear that it's not true for everyone. When we
              visit, we want people to think the best of the home, the family, the
              land from which we came. It is this nobility of striving, this
              mindful courtesy that the Desert Father wished to praise. In fact, if
              I read it correctly, the implication was that it might even be better
              to be a monastic AWAY from one's native land for just those reasons.

              There is something striking here. Remember how badly the gyrovagues
              and Sarabaites were painted in the types of monks? Well, these were
              the wandering ones, and St. Benedict knew very well that a pilgrim
              monk at the door could be one of these sorts. He doesn't even mention
              it. He wants them to have a chance to do better, to be healed by
              community. If they blow it, fine, he's not going to lose a lot of
              sleep over it, but he does insist they be given a chance to improve.
              Given what the monastic world thought of gyrovagues and the like,
              that says a LOT for St. Benedict's tolerance and clemency.

              Not all of us are in cloisters, but all of us encounter others. The people
              we meet may be gyrovagues and Sarabaites, but they
              may not, too. We have to give them a chance to prove or reveal
              themselves. This is true of anyone we encounter. Snap judgments are
              not wise, they cheat us out of many gifts. Tread the middle way,
              always the middle way.

              Another thing to watch is the fact that we often may take any suggestions
              as criticism and bristle at the very mention of them. Often, criticism may
              have been the last thing the speaker intended, genuine charity may have
              been the only concern. There may be times when God intends the use
              of a person as His instrument in a critique He deems worthy. All of
              these things must be considered. The person we regard as a meddling
              annoyance could sometimes be God's tender and loving gift to us!

              This doesn't mean we have to dupe ourselves into perpetual
              vulnerability, but it does mean we have to be open, mindful and
              listening, really listening to all comers. Listen first, sift later.
              Do both, always both.

              Love and prayers and the occasional laugh,
              Jerome, OSB
              http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
              Petersham, MA




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Br. Jerome Leo
              +PAX Big Deo gratias, and a more than usual update, but God has been so good! Steven, age 32, husband and father to two young sons underwent heart surgery
              Message 6 of 16 , Apr 15, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                +PAX

                Big Deo gratias, and a more than usual update, but God has been so good! Steven, age 32, husband and father to two young sons underwent heart surgery today. You've put him in the list of intentions twice and so I wanted to hurry and let you know that it pleased God that all went well today!

                Though it was more complex than expected, the result is that the doctor was able to locate and destroy all of the targeted tissue. There is a small chance it could grow back but the doctor says that if it does not grow back within 6 months, Steve is cured. Steve woke astonished and grateful that he could already feel his heart beating normally.Thanks from Krystal, his Mom, who asked, and prayers for her and all his family, all who take care of him.

                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 16, August 16, December 16
                Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received

                But if as a guest she was found exacting or prone to vice,
                not only should she be denied membership in the community,
                but she should even be politely requested to leave,
                lest others be corrupted by her evil life.

                If, however, she has not proved to be the kind
                who deserves to be put out,
                she should not only on her own application be received
                as a member of the community,
                but she should even be persuaded to stay,
                that the others may be instructed by her example,
                and because in every place it is the same Lord who is served,
                the same King for whom the battle is fought.

                Moreover, if the Abbess perceives that she is worthy,
                she may put her in a somewhat higher rank.
                [And not only with regard to a nun
                but also with regard to those in priestly or clerical orders
                previously mentioned,]*
                the Abbess may establish them in a higher rank
                than would be theirs by date of entrance
                if she perceives that their life is deserving.

                Let the Abbess take care, however,
                never to receive a nun from another known monastery
                as a member of her community
                without the consent of her Abbess or a letter of recommendation;
                for it is written,
                "Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself" (Tob.
                4:16).

                *(The gender switch is built in at the Collegeville OSB site.) [Applicable
                only to
                women of some contemporary monastic communities
                in Protestant Communions.]

                REFLECTION

                Not all criticism is good. Every person at the door of your
                workplace, home or monastery is a challenge for virtue from God. They
                may even be doing His will unwittingly by their pickiness or
                crankiness, but they are not therefore necessarily right.

                That means that every single criticism should be carefully weighed.
                Sometimes the message God sends is positive, sometimes
                negative, sometimes merely an exercise in endurance! Trust me, I
                worked in the guest house for over twelve years... The person who
                annoys you could be right, but not always!

                Some of us are so complacent that we badly need to be taken down a
                bit. Others, however, have such wounded self-esteem that they will
                need protection, need to be careful and yes, MINDFUL enough to
                balance what is said to them by critical types. Hear what people say,
                but sift it very carefully. They might be wrong.

                Some people, I have no doubt, are sent to us for no
                reason other than to teach us to recognize such fools as those of
                whom St. Paul speaks and suffer them [hopefully!] gladly, or at least
                start working at suffering them civilly. I usually find myself STILL
                working at "civilly." Gladly is a pretty tall order!

                Some of us, too, need to listen to this while putting ourselves in
                the role of the guest or the listeners. I remember a priest in the mid
                1970's, who thought every single homily should "shake 'em up a bit." Well,
                yes and no and neither, at times. Not every "pearl" of wisdom is
                cultured!

                For one thing, he missed the fact that, by that time, most of the
                flock had been "shaken up" quite regularly for 7 years or so, and
                not always for the best nor always by the brightest. People quite
                rightly get weary of that. They tune out.

                He got his chance at first, but it wasn't long before our only response
                was annoyance, followed soon thereafter by relative deafness. ("Oh no,
                look who's celebrant today...") He missed the balance and when one
                misses balance, one largely fails.

                Even "Father Disturbus" had the occasional good idea, but that got
                buried in the avalanche of not so hot stuff. Learn, if you don't
                already know, how to filter people like that. Even a stopped clock is
                right twice a day and there might be something worthwhile buried in all
                the rest.

                Strive to never be a person like that. Don't make a life calling out of
                shaking people up, they'll get over you fast. You don't want that to happen,
                you want to keep their attention until they can hear Christ in your speech
                and see Him in your life. Jostling nerves is not the best way to attract others
                to the Gospel.

                But neither should a timidly, uncharitable politeness make you afraid to
                speak when it is really necessary and might actually help. The monastic
                tendency to avoid conflict, often at virtually any cost, is not always kind.
                It is often nothing more than cowardice. As usual m'dears, balance, ALWAYS
                balance! And ALWAYS kindness. When you have to say something difficult,
                the loving tone will most likely be heard, the strident one will usually
                serve only to make matters worse and hurts deeper.

                It is a sad fact that many of the "Disturbi" of the world
                have no clue, none at all, how annoying they are. Try very hard to
                ascertain whether or not you're one of them, and if you are, please
                stop! For everyone's sake.

                Love and prayers,
                Jerome, OSB (who can be a bit of a Disturbus at times himself!)
                http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                Petersham, MA



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Br. Jerome Leo
                +PAX Prayers, please, the eternal rest of William Collett, father of our Oblate, Bill Collett, and for all his family and all who mourn him. Prayers for the
                Message 7 of 16 , Apr 16, 2011
                • 0 Attachment
                  +PAX

                  Prayers, please, the eternal rest of William Collett, father of our Oblate, Bill Collett, and for all his family and all who mourn him.

                  Prayers for the happy death of Elizabeth's Father, at home awaiting God's call, and for Elizabeth and all his family, and all who will mourn him.

                  Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Dot, for whom we have prayed before. Breast cancer surgery three years ago and now a cancerous growth has been found in her remaining breast. She also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which is very bad. Prayers, too, for her family who are willing and trying to help.

                  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 17, August 17, December 17
                  Chapter 62: On the Priests of the Monastery

                  If an Abbot desire
                  to have a priest or a deacon ordained for his monastery,
                  let him choose one
                  who is worthy to exercise the priestly office.

                  But let the one who is ordained
                  beware of self-exaltation or pride;
                  and let him not presume to do anything
                  except what is commanded him by the Abbot,
                  knowing that he is so much the more subject
                  to the discipline of the Rule.
                  Nor should he by reason of his priesthood forget
                  the obedience and the discipline required by the Rule,
                  but make ever more and more progress towards God.

                  Let him always keep the place which he received
                  on entering the monastery,
                  except in his duties at the altar
                  or in case the choice of the community and the will of the Abbess
                  should promote him for the worthiness of his life.
                  Yet he must understand
                  that he is to observe the rules laid down by deans and Priors.

                  Should he presume to act otherwise,
                  let him be judged not as a priest but as a rebel.
                  And if he does not reform after repeated admonitions,
                  let even the Bishop be brought in as a witness.
                  If then he still fails to amend,
                  and his offenses are notorious,
                  let him be put out of the monastery,
                  but only if his contumacy is such
                  that he refuses to submit or to obey the Rule.

                  REFLECTION

                  The other day I passed the assistant manager of our local supermarket
                  cleaning up a bad mess on the floor with sweeping compound. I stopped
                  and told him that was the best possible thing his employees could
                  see. I congratulated him, saying that his employees would more likely
                  do anything for him gladly. They had seen him do it first.

                  This chapter applies to anyone who rises at work or at school or even
                  in the home. Much is required of those to whom much is given! When a
                  Benedictine gets a promotion, the basic willingness to do anything
                  necessary ought to remain firmly in place!

                  Authority, when it is placed over us, is to be reverenced and obeyed,
                  when it is placed in our own hands, it is to serve, not to reign! All
                  of us get the opportunity to live under authority or to administer
                  same. Our Benedictine hearts should make it readily evident to any
                  who observes us that our style in either area is decidedly different!

                  There's another thing both the world and religious life could profit
                  from learning. Authority in the Holy Rule is not permanent, not even
                  in the case of an Abbot, whom St. Benedict says may, even ought to be
                  removed in extreme cases. So often, in cloister or world, once we
                  have kicked someone upstairs, we are hesitant to ever put them
                  downstairs again. That shouldn't be. It gives the person and the
                  community an excellent potential for learning and teaching humility.
                  Whenever anyone handles authority badly, really badly, they should
                  not be rewarded with continued administration. Alas, that is often
                  not the case.

                  Love and prayers,
                  Jerome, OSB
                  http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                  Petersham, MA


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Br. Jerome Leo
                  +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Estebins, complex
                  Message 8 of 16 , Apr 17, 2011
                  • 0 Attachment
                    +PAX

                    Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                    Estebins, complex and unjust immigration mess, ardent prayers for him and God's perfect justice and will, also for Cate, Elizabeth and Liz, trying to help him and for safe travels as Liz and Cate travel out of state to his court hearing as advocates.

                    Marianne, age 87, who had a serious stroke yesterday and is not doing very well. Unable to swallow and has right-sided weakness. She seems worse today than yesterday, so please pray for her and for her family, especially daughter Dianne with whom she has been living, and Joyce, Marianne's sister.

                    Janet who is recovering from surgery and is doing well.

                    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! JL

                    April 18, August 18, December 18
                    Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community

                    Let all keep their places in the monastery
                    established by the time of their entrance,
                    the merit of their lives and the decision of the Abbot.
                    Yet the Abbot must not disturb the flock committed to him,
                    nor by an arbitrary use of his power ordain anything unjustly;
                    but let him always think
                    of the account he will have to render to God
                    for all his decisions and his deeds.

                    Therefore in that order which he has established
                    or which they already had,
                    let the brethren approach to receive the kiss of peace and Communion,
                    intone the Psalms and stand in choir.
                    And in no place whatever should age decide the order
                    or be prejudicial to it;
                    for Samuel and Daniel as mere boys judged priests.

                    Except for those already mentioned, therefore,
                    whom the Abbot has promoted by a special decision
                    or demoted for definite reasons,
                    all the rest shall take their order
                    according to the time of their entrance.
                    Thus, for example,
                    he who came to the monastery at the second hour of the day,
                    whatever be his age or his dignity,
                    must know that he is junior
                    to one who came at the first hour of the day.
                    Boys, however, are to be kept under discipline
                    in all matters and by everyone.

                    REFLECTION

                    I have known one monk of St. Leo who perhaps may have been delighted
                    to be the most senior monk by age and entrance, but he is long gone
                    now. The others I have known, who either held the first place or
                    hovered near it, could not have cared less, might even chuckle about
                    it if reminded. I like their way better.

                    Rank is a handy way to organize people in line, but after that, its
                    usefulness quickly diminishes. Rank that one desires or seeks can be
                    downright pernicious and fatal to a monastic life. If you look at
                    this chapter closely, it is not hard to see that St. Benedict wanted
                    his monastics to pretty much take their place and forget about it-
                    going any higher or lower had nothing to do with their own decision
                    anyhow and they should be at peace.

                    There's the rub: to be at peace! We need peace, we need inner
                    serenity. It is no accident that it became our motto, PAX. That peace
                    of soul is a fertile earth in which God tills His bountiful fields of
                    graces. It is the foundation we need to build houses firm.

                    Ever notice the readily apparent peace in a famous politician who has
                    decided not to run anymore? Whether you like the man or not, a great
                    freedom and relief is soon noticeable. It was so in Jimmy Carter,
                    who, when free to be just Jimmy Carter, went on to do wonderful
                    things. This renunciation is different, far different from quitting.
                    Mere quitting shows up in a very bad light. What I think we are
                    seeing is the light of a heart that has learned what NOT to
                    desire, even if only partially.

                    By the way, there's no need for any of us reading this to think we
                    need to dream up a standard of WHAT we desire and perhaps should not.
                    The Holy Rule has already done that for us, 1,500 years ago: "Let them
                    prefer nothing whatever to the love of Christ."

                    Love and prayers,

                    Jerome, OSB
                    http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                    Petersham, MA






                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Joe and Lori.
                    Message 9 of 16 , Apr 18, 2011
                    • 0 Attachment
                      +PAX

                      Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                      Joe and Lori. Joe's father died last week and now Lori had heart by-pass surgery today, and prayers for their nephew Jordan who lives with them.


                      Betsy and Alexis, sisters. Betsy is in her late teens, lost her job in January and has had no luck getting new employment. Meanwhile, today while learning to drive with Betsy, Alexis hit a parked car.


                      Sidney, who gave the Lord ownership of his life a few years ago and by His strength has been drug and alcohol free ever since. Deo Gratias!


                      Gary and Mitchell, brothers. Gary has had a very rough time with substance abuse, but has given his life over to God and is now fully employed and is very thankful for his blessings, while Mitchell recovers from mental illness.

                      Robert, hospitalized with cancer and not doing well.

                      for the intentions of Peg M. and Christine S.

                      Seminarian David, who has to travel home and for his brother, critically ill and perhaps near death and for all their family. For his brother's happy death, should God call him home.

                      Bill W., on the anniverary of his Oblation.

                      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 19, August 19, December 19
                      Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community
                      The juniors, therefore, should honor their seniors,
                      and the seniors love their juniors.

                      In the very manner of address,
                      let no one call another by the mere name;
                      but let the seniors call their juniors Brothers,
                      and the juniors call their seniors Fathers,
                      by which is conveyed the reverence due to a father.
                      But the Abbot,
                      since he is believed to represent Christ,
                      shall be called Lord and Abbot,
                      not for any pretensions of his own
                      but out of honor and love for Christ.
                      Let the Abbot himself reflect on this,
                      and show himself worthy of such an honor.

                      And wherever the brethren meet one another
                      the junior shall ask the senior for his blessing.
                      When a senior passes by,
                      a junior shall rise and give him a place to sit,
                      nor shall the junior presume to sit with him
                      unless his senior bid him,
                      that it may be as was written,
                      "In honor anticipating one another."

                      Boys, both small and adolescent,
                      shall keep strictly to their rank in oratory and at table.
                      But outside of that, wherever they may be,
                      let them be under supervision and discipline,
                      until they come to the age of discretion.

                      REFLECTION

                      Abbot Fidelis, my late novicemaster, used to always say that
                      Benedictines were "gentlemen monks." At that time, the phrase annoyed
                      me a good bit, though I never said so. It seemed to have a ring of
                      faint middle-class respectability about it, not a little bourgeois,
                      as if we were monks who were "the right sort of people."

                      It would still annoy me today if, one meant by that phrase nothing
                      more than all those rather hollow social niceties. Not that there's
                      anything wrong as such with social niceties, just that I have grown
                      up in a country where courtesy, "civil" religion and the like often had
                      precious little to do with faith itself. Such things, though
                      indubitably polite, sometimes seemed to me to be the basically
                      disconnected veneer of an often mediocre faith. They can be the
                      exercise of a genuine charity and animated faith, but sometimes
                      they are not.

                      Living among monastics will teach one (hopefully!) by osmosis that
                      many of the common courtesies which have become decidedly UNcommon in
                      the world are the order of the day here. We get so immersed in that
                      that often it is hard to even think of what they are, we just do
                      them. The best example I can come up with right now is that there is
                      FAR more restraint here against interrupting another's conversation
                      here than in the world at large. We do it sometimes, I do it too
                      much, but basically we do NOT "butt in."

                      There are many other little things, rising when a superior enters,
                      not sitting until the superior does in chapter, etc. These in
                      themselves may seem empty at first, but when linked to the charity of
                      Christ and His Divine Mercy, they become very real gestures of love.
                      The fact that we don't think of them much after a while in no way
                      diminishes the Treasure that motivates them, Christ Himself.

                      So, yes, my dear Abbot Fidelis, we ARE gentlemen monks (and gentle
                      monastics period!) No, we are not like some terribly well-off and
                      properly stuffy social elite. But we ARE gentle and we are so because of
                      Him Whom we seek and have come to love more and more as we better
                      see His ineffable mercy.

                      Love and prayers,

                      Jerome, OSB
                      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                      Petersham, MA






                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                      +PAX Prayers for the eternal rest of Mrs. Wynn, mother of our Sister Mary Frances, who died this morning, and for Sr. Mary Frances, her sister, Mary, and all
                      Message 10 of 16 , Apr 19, 2011
                      • 0 Attachment
                        +PAX

                        Prayers for the eternal rest of Mrs. Wynn, mother of our Sister Mary Frances, who died this morning, and for Sr. Mary Frances, her sister, Mary, and all their family and all who mourn Mrs. Wynn.

                        Prayers for the eternal rest of Donald, and for all his family and all who mourn him.

                        Prayers please for a happy death for Mary, 83, who had a stroke early this week and is still unconscious and not expected to recover. Prayers too for her family and friends at this time.

                        Prayers for Shirley and her family, she has metastatic throat cancer.

                        Prayers for a baby having all day brain surgery, his heart has been weakened by his condition, prayers, too, for his family and all who take care of him.

                        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 20, August 20, December 20
                        Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess

                        In the constituting of an Abbess
                        let this plan always be followed,
                        that the office be conferred on the one who is chosen
                        either by the whole community unanimously in the fear of God
                        or else by a part of the community, however small,
                        if its counsel is more wholesome.

                        Merit of life and wisdom of doctrine
                        should determine the choice of the one to be constituted,
                        even if she be the last of the order of the community.

                        But if (which God forbid)
                        the whole community should agree to choose a person
                        who will acquiesce in their vices,
                        and if those vices somehow become known to the Bishop
                        to whose diocese the place belongs,
                        or to the Abbots, Abbesses or the faithful of the vicinity,
                        let them prevent the success of this conspiracy of the wicked,
                        and set a worthy steward over the house of God.
                        They may be sure
                        that they will receive a good reward for this action
                        if they do it with a pure intention and out of zeal for God;
                        as, on the contrary, they will sin if they fail to do it.

                        REFLECTION

                        There is an old monastic saying that holds that "The community gets
                        the Abbot it deserves and the vocations it deserves." Like most
                        generalizations, this one has kernels of both falsity and truth.
                        Heresy is obviously taking a small truth and making it the only truth
                        and this is no different. It is rash (even if sometimes seemingly
                        handy!) to try to fit the inscrutable workings of the Holy Spirit, of
                        our all-merciful God and His love into such a small compartment of
                        phrase! There is infinitely more to God's loving plan than that.

                        God has a plan from all eternity which none may ultimately thwart. Even
                        those who seek to impede that plan serve only to further its cause, whether
                        they want to or not, whether they know it or not. God can use anything.

                        And *A* plan is exactly the right phrase: God has ONLY one plan, with
                        only one goal: the salvation of all. God lacks a plan B because none is
                        necessary. God uses ALL human agency, of any kind, to further the
                        perfect good of His plan. God can turn absolutely every human
                        event, good or evil, to useful means to further that perfect plan of love,
                        mercy, salvation and good- yes, even joy!- for all.

                        However, there IS that kernel of truth! I have certainly lived
                        through times myself and seen them elsewhere which gave
                        frightening credence to one or both halves of the axiom! There is a
                        human side to these things, God DOES use human means to accomplish
                        His perfect Will and we, let us face it, are far from perfect
                        ourselves!

                        On that human side of things, like does tend to attract like. A house
                        where holiness is at least frequent, if not common, is likely to
                        elect an Abbot good and holy enough to nurture that. Unfortunately,
                        houses often elect one Abbot to counterbalance the effects, (not
                        always delightful,) of his predecessor, so a lot of things come into
                        play here. A house where holiness abounds is likely to attract holy
                        vocations.

                        The grim truth that the saying does NOT address is that even good and
                        holy houses are thirsting badly for vocations these days. Something
                        else, something other, something strange has been added to imbalance
                        the equation and no one can be sure just what. Pray, pray with all
                        your hearts for vocations, good and holy vocations to the monastic
                        life on every level, as monks, as nuns, as Oblates. With our dimmed
                        vision looking through glasses darkly, we can neither see nor know
                        perfectly what wonders of His Will God is working now, much less why!
                        Just pray for His Will for all of us!

                        Love and prayers,

                        Jerome, OSB
                        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                        Petersham, MA






                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                        +PAX Prayers, please, for our superior, Father Anselm, on his patronal feastday, Ad multos annos!! Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best.
                        Message 11 of 16 , Apr 20, 2011
                        • 0 Attachment
                          +PAX

                          Prayers, please, for our superior, Father Anselm, on his patronal feastday, Ad multos annos!!

                          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 21, August 21, December 21
                          Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess

                          Once she has been constituted,
                          let the Abbess always bear in mind
                          what a burden she has undertaken
                          and to whom she will have to give an account of her stewardship,
                          and let her know that her duty is rather to profit her sisters
                          than to preside over them.
                          She must therefore be learned in the divine law,
                          that she may have a treasure of knowledge
                          from which to bring forth new things and old.
                          She must be chaste, sober and merciful.
                          Let her exalt mercy above judgment,
                          that she herself may obtain mercy.
                          She should hate vices;
                          she should love the sisterhood.


                          In administering correction
                          she should act prudently and not go to excess,
                          lest in seeking too eagerly to scrape off the rust
                          she break the vessel.
                          Let her keep her own frailty ever before her eyes
                          and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken.
                          By this we do not mean that she should allow vices to grow;
                          on the contrary, as we have already said,
                          she should eradicate them prudently and with charity,
                          in the way which may seem best in each case.
                          Let her study rather to be loved than to be feared.


                          Let her not be excitable and worried,
                          nor exacting and headstrong,
                          nor jealous and over-suspicious;
                          for then she is never at rest.


                          In her commands let her be prudent and considerate;
                          and whether the work which she enjoins
                          concerns God or the world,
                          let her be discreet and moderate,
                          bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said,
                          "If I cause my flocks to be overdriven,
                          they will all die in one day."
                          Taking this, then, and other examples of discretion,
                          the mother of virtues,
                          let her so temper all things
                          that the strong may have something to strive after,
                          and the weak may not fall back in dismay.


                          And especially let her keep this Rule in all its details,
                          so that after a good ministry
                          she may hear from the Lord what the good servant heard
                          who gave the fellow-servants wheat in due season:
                          "Indeed, I tell you, he will set that one over all his goods" (Matt.
                          24:27).

                          REFLECTION

                          The priest who taught me moral theology was a brilliantly educated,
                          theologically progressive man. As such, it was rather alarming to
                          hear him say: "To fail the law in one respect is to fail it in all."
                          Those are harsh and terrifying terms, but if one examines the Letter
                          of St. James, from which the principle comes, he was very right. The
                          Holy Spirit has left no doubt about this one...

                          One cannot keep all the law faithfully while grievously sinning
                          against one portion of it. The law, any law is a whole. It does not
                          admit of fragmentation. Granted, the people following any law are
                          flawed subjectively and then a whole set of other considerations must
                          come into play. But the law is a whole.

                          View even just this chapter through that lens of wholeness, let alone
                          the entire Holy Rule, and you will quickly come to the conclusion
                          that its fulfillment is beyond human capability. And you will be
                          quite right. It is. You cannot do this stuff without grace. Lots of
                          it. Impossible otherwise.

                          Hence, ardent prayers for all in authority of any kind, religious or secular,
                          ought to be a lifelong, daily habit. Their task is not easy. They need our
                          prayers very much, and it is the least service of thanks we can render them
                          for their ministry to us, a ministry St. Paul tells us was given them by God.

                          Check out the Abbess. No human person can administer that kind of
                          authority without a great deal of prayer and a great deal of help
                          from God. No one at all can be this wise or balanced or loving or
                          moderate on their own lights. That's far too high an order for
                          natural virtue alone. A lot of that prayer must come from others, too,
                          so always, always pray for your Abbot, for all abbots, for all in authority.

                          Hence, it should come as no great shock that people in authority fail
                          this standard right and left, all the time. I know in murmuring
                          circles it is always treated as if it were news that an Abbot could
                          be that limited, but it really isn't at all. To even half-way clever
                          students, this should be a real no-brainer. It is the usual human
                          condition of people in power to be imperfect: bosses, abbots,
                          parents, spouses, the whole lot. In fact, that is the usual condition
                          of all humanity and especially the murmurers!

                          Was the person in charge mean to many for the sake of one? There
                          might be a reckoning for that. One can also cause the flock to be
                          overdriven simply by doing nothing in a given instance, or not doing
                          enough. There might be a reckoning for that, in fact, St. Benedict
                          promises us there will be and not a light one, either.

                          Dare we HOPE that such retribution will be forthcoming, that exacting
                          justice will be done, to Abbots, to anyone in authority, to anyone who
                          ticks us off? No way, not unless we want it for ourselves, too! Jesus
                          gave us that standard in the Our Father: we ask God to use our own
                          standards of forgiveness for others in forgiving us. Mercy, folks, always
                          mercy and to all!

                          We must deal with God's mercy in this life or we shall deal with His justice in
                          the next.
                          May God spare us ALL from exact justice. Not a single one of us could stand
                          it. None of us could endure getting what we truly deserve. That is why mercy
                          is God's greatest attribute and why it is paramount. I know with all my heart
                          the Christ's Divine Mercy is my only hope- and it is a very sure hope!! His
                          loving kindness to us all is absolutely reliable in the infinite extreme.

                          The awful thing about authority is that sometimes, even when one gets
                          it right, one can get clobbered. There are also people who have left
                          because the Abbot was right. Try to remember that. If you're in
                          authority, be prepared to weather that, if you're not, try to help
                          those who must endure it for good reasons which they cannot reveal.

                          The key to this perplexing puzzle is the radically flawed human
                          weakness of both those in authority and those under it. We all
                          stumble together, half-blind, halt and lame, in an largely unlighted
                          tunnel to God. God alone at the end of that tunnel is the Light.
                          Prayer and grace offer us flashes on the way and we need them badly,
                          but any level of honest surprise at the limitations of such humanity
                          is really not the mark of a terribly observant mind.

                          Now for the clincher: this is not just a model for Abbots, but for
                          all of us with any authority, in fact, for all of us period. This is
                          the way Benedictines should treat others, seniors, juniors, all
                          people. This Christ-like attitude ought to pervade every parent,
                          teacher, boss, nurse and grocery clerk, all of us.

                          Now THAT, is a REALLY tall order! Sure is! You can only do it
                          with grace, with prayer and God's all-merciful help.

                          Love and prayers,

                          Jerome, OSB
                          http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                          Petersham, MA


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.