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Holy Rule for Apr. 16

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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 1 of 16 , Apr 15 5:51 PM
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      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 2 of 16 , Apr 16 6:02 PM
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        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 3 of 16 , Apr 17 5:45 PM
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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 4 of 16 , Apr 18 5:08 PM
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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 5 of 16 , Apr 19 2:10 PM
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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 6 of 16 , Apr 20 5:05 PM
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                +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


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