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Holy Rule for Apr. 18

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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 1 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 2 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 3 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






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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 4 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 5 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 6 of 18 , Apr 10, 2017

                +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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