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Holy Rule for Apr. 14

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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 1 of 18 , Apr 13, 2011
      +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






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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 2 of 18 , Apr 14, 2011
        +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




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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 3 of 18 , Apr 15, 2011
          +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 4 of 18 , Apr 16, 2011
            +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 5 of 18 , Apr 17, 2011
              +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






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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 6 of 18 , Apr 18, 2011
                +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 7 of 18 , Apr 19, 2011
                  +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 8 of 18 , Apr 20, 2011
                    +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]
                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                    +PAX Prayers for our Sr. Gemma, on her feastday, graces galore and many more! Ad multos annos! Continued healing prayers for Ginger, who needed twenty stitches
                    Message 9 of 18 , Apr 10, 2016

                      +PAX

                      Prayers for our Sr. Gemma, on her feastday, graces galore and many more! Ad multos annos!

                      Continued healing prayers for Ginger, who needed twenty stitches after her fall. Please keep her in prayer while she heals.

                      Prayers for Sr. Mary Joseph, special intention.

                      Prayers for Julia F., facing a long recovery after a serious, life-threatening surgery, prayers for her healing and for all her family.

                      Deo gratias and prayers of thanksgiving, baby Mollie is doing fine after her skull surgery, wearing her helmet and even liking it. Continued prayers for her and her family as she heals.

                      Prayers for Kimberley, who is in the hospital for treatment and has to be there for several months.  Prayers that God heals her.

                      Prayers for Lida, who is travelling to Toronto today until the end of the month that God blesses her with a safe and relaxing trip.  

                      Prayers for Claude, in his 50's and had a heart attack.  He is in a medically induced coma.  Prayer that God heals him to full recovery and for all of his family who are devastated.  Prayers that God resolves all of the issues that are causing the stress that could have contributed to the heart attack.

                      Prayers for Elaine, that she has the favor of her bosses and coworkers and they acknowledge she is doing a great job and want to offer her a full-time regular position with them.  Prayers that she get full-time regular employment where God wants her to work.

                      Prayers for Fr. Nadeem, on the 5th anniversary of his Ordination, for many graces and many, many years in the Lord's service.

                       

                      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!

                       

                      April 11, August 11, December 11
                      Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

                      When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
                      let her not be granted an easy entrance;
                      but, as the Apostle says,
                      "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
                      If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
                      and if it is seen after four or five days
                      that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
                      and the difficulty of admission,
                      and that she persists in her petition,
                      then let entrance be granted her,
                      and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

                      After that let her live in the novitiate,
                      where the novices study, eat and sleep.
                      A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
                      to watch over them with the utmost care.
                      Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
                      and whether she is zealous
                      for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
                      Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
                      by which the journey to God is made.

                      If she promises stability and perseverance,
                      then at the end of two months
                      let this rule be read through to her,
                      and let her be addressed thus:
                      "Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
                      If you can observe it, enter;
                      if you cannot, you are free to depart."
                      If she still stands firm,
                      let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
                      and again tested in all patience.
                      And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
                      that she may know on what she is entering.
                      And if she still remains firm,
                      after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

                      Then, having deliberated with herself,
                      if she promises to keep it in its entirety
                      and to observe everything that is commanded,
                      let her be received into the community.
                      But let her understand that,
                      according to the law of the Rule,
                      from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
                      nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
                      which she was free to refuse or to accept
                      during that prolonged deliberation.

                      REFLECTION

                      The most important thing that St. Benedict asks of all of us on
                      entrance into the monastic way is whether we truly seek God. Whether
                      Abbot Primate or newest Oblate novice, that is what we are asked by
                      the Holy Rule. It is a question we shall be asked for the rest of our
                      lives, and one to which we must strive (and often struggle!) to say yes,
                      again and again, day after day.

                      "Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we
                      have found." In truth a certain "finding" of God is necessary to whet
                      our appetite, to lead us to seek Him more deeply. Once that happens,
                      however, we can go on seeking God for the rest of time and eternity
                      and never get to the end of His infinite love and mercy. Even in
                      heaven the journey will go on, with us always being creature and Him
                      always loving Creator. We will never end our quest, but we will love
                      it, we will never reach the essence of God, but that will never
                      frustrate us in heaven. It's an adventure we shall love.

                      After novitiate, our commitment to conversion of manners obliges us to
                      ever seek, to ever try to improve, to never give up the quest
                      entirely. A Benedictine who has stopped trying to be better and
                      stopped seeking God is in deep, maybe even fatal trouble. We always
                      seek and strive. It is the very stuff of our lives as monastics.

                      This chapter, by the way, led to the traditional division we now have
                      of the Holy Rule into dates that will result in it all being read
                      three times a year. The novices had to hear it three times anyway and
                      elsewhere St. Benedict had asked that all in community hear
                      it "frequently." Hence, this system covers both fronts!

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

                       

                       

                    • russophile2002
                      +PAX Prayers for Sr. Gemma, on her feastday, graces galore and many more, ad multos annos! Prayers for the eternal rest of all those killed in the terror
                      Message 10 of 18 , Apr 10

                        +PAX

                        Prayers for Sr. Gemma, on her feastday, graces galore and many more, ad multos annos!

                         

                        Prayers for the eternal rest of all those killed in the terror attacks in Cairo, Alexandria and Stockholm, prayers for the recovery of all those injured and for the families of all. Prayers for the repentance and conversion of those responsible for the attacks.

                         

                        Prayers for Joshua, who suffered burns to his right hand and arm. He is hoping he will not have to have surgery.

                        Prayers for Fr. Nadeem, on the 6th anniversary of his Ordination, for many graces and many, many years in the Lord's service.

                        Prayers for eight prisoners scheduled to be executed over ten days beginning Apr. 17, in Arkansas. Prayers they may be spared, or that they may embrace God and His Divine Mercy at their deaths with contrite hearts. Prayers, too, for all their victims and the families of all.

                        Prayers for Billy and Pastor Charles and those they serve.

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

                        Prayers for Chris, discerning his vocation on retreat with the Carthusians in Vermont, for the will of God for him.

                        Prayers for Joann on her birthday, graces galore 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!

                         April 11, August 11, December 11
                        Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

                        When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
                        let her not be granted an easy entrance;
                        but, as the Apostle says,
                        "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
                        If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
                        and if it is seen after four or five days
                        that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
                        and the difficulty of admission,
                        and that she persists in her petition,
                        then let entrance be granted her,
                        and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

                        After that let her live in the novitiate,
                        where the novices study, eat and sleep.
                        A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
                        to watch over them with the utmost care.
                        Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
                        and whether she is zealous
                        for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
                        Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
                        by which the journey to God is made.

                        If she promises stability and perseverance,
                        then at the end of two months
                        let this rule be read through to her,
                        and let her be addressed thus:
                        "Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
                        If you can observe it, enter;
                        if you cannot, you are free to depart."
                        If she still stands firm,
                        let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
                        and again tested in all patience.
                        And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
                        that she may know on what she is entering.
                        And if she still remains firm,
                        after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

                        Then, having deliberated with herself,
                        if she promises to keep it in its entirety
                        and to observe everything that is commanded,
                        let her be received into the community.
                        But let her understand that,
                        according to the law of the Rule,
                        from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
                        nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
                        which she was free to refuse or to accept
                        during that prolonged deliberation.

                        REFLECTION

                        The most important thing that St. Benedict asks of all of us on
                        entrance into the monastic way is whether we truly seek God. Whether
                        Abbot Primate or newest Oblate novice, that is what we are asked by
                        the Holy Rule. It is a question we shall be asked for the rest of our
                        lives, and one to which we must strive (and often struggle!) to say yes,
                        again and again, day after day.

                        "Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we
                        have found." In truth a certain "finding" of God is necessary to whet
                        our appetite, to lead us to seek Him more deeply. Once that happens,
                        however, we can go on seeking God for the rest of time and eternity
                        and never get to the end of His infinite love and mercy. Even in
                        heaven the journey will go on, with us always being creature and Him
                        always our Creator. We will travel ever more deeply into God, and we will love
                        it. It's an adventure we shall love forever.

                        After novitiate, our commitment to conversion of manners obliges us to
                        ever seek, to ever try to improve, to never give up the quest
                        entirely. A Benedictine who has stopped trying to be better and
                        stopped seeking God is in deep, maybe even fatal trouble. We always
                        seek and strive. It is the very stuff of our lives as monastics.

                        This chapter, by the way, led to the traditional division we now have
                        of the Holy Rule into dates that will result in it all being read
                        three times a year. The novices had to hear it three times anyway and
                        elsewhere St. Benedict had asked that all in community hear
                        it "frequently." Hence, this system covers both fronts!

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


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