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Holy Rule for Apr. 19

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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 1 of 16 , Apr 18, 2011
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      Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

      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.

      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.


      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
      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 2 of 16 , Apr 19, 2011
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        Prayers for the eternal rest of Mrs. Wynn, mother of our Sister Mary Frances, who died this morning, and for Sr. Mary Frances, her sister, Mary, and all their family and all who mourn Mrs. Wynn.

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

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

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

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

        Lord, help us all as
        You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never
        absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

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

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

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

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


        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

        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

        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
        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 3 of 16 , Apr 20, 2011
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          Prayers, please, for our superior, Father Anselm, on his patronal feastday, Ad multos annos!!

          Lord, help us all as You know
          and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent,
          praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

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

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

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

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

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

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


          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
          Petersham, MA

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