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Holy Rule for Apr. 13

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  • 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 1 of 16 , Apr 12, 2011
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      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



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    • 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 2 of 16 , Apr 13, 2011
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        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






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      • 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 3 of 16 , Apr 14, 2011
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          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




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        • 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 4 of 16 , Apr 15, 2011
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            +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



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          • 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 5 of 16 , Apr 16, 2011
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              +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


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            • 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 6 of 16 , Apr 17, 2011
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                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






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              • 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 7 of 16 , Apr 18, 2011
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                  +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






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                • 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 8 of 16 , Apr 19, 2011
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                    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






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                  • 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 9 of 16 , Apr 20, 2011
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                      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


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