Holy Rule for Apr. 26
Prayers, please, for Michael and Anthony, brothers and co-owners of a business, sibling problems and business problems. May the Holy Spirit capture both their hearts.
Prayers, please, for Elaine, terrified of flying and having to fly twice in the near future, that she not have panic attacks on the plane.
Prayers for Ray, Nancy, Katie and Maria on their birthday.
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 26, August 26, December 26
Chapter 68: If a Sister Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things
If it happens
that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a sister,
let her nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority
with all meekness and obedience.
But if she sees that the weight of the burden
altogether exceeds the limit of her strength,
let her submit the reasons for her inability
to the one who is over her
in a quiet way and at an opportune time,
without pride, resistance, or contradiction.
And if after these representations
the Superior still persists in her decision and command,
let the subject know that this is for her good,
and let her obey out of love,
trusting in the help of God.
Buried in chapters whose names may throw us off there are usually
gems, one just has to dig a bit more carefully. Granted, impossible
tasks are rarely asked of anyone these days, much less Oblates who
live outside the monastery, but there is a beautiful method given
here which has the widest of applications.
The method given here for approaching one's superior is a masterpiece
of crisis intervention and prevention for almost any situation in
"...in a quiet way and at an opportune time, without pride,
resistance, or contradiction."
We ought to carve that on the walls of every mediation center in the
world, on the doors to every marriage counselor and above every
complaint desk (or, as they euphemize them these days, "Customer
Service," but what's in a name?)
Look at what is called for here: composure and calm, timing, respect
for the other person (Gandhi would even say love for the foe,) non-
violence and non-contentiousness. Use this approach with
disagreements and many of them will melt away. One reason Gandhi's
non-violence worked was that he employed all of these things, the
opponent was never denied her worth or dignity. When his followers
pared the list, they failed. This is the recipe for lasting results,
not for a temporary subjugation.
Jesus, of course, gives us a three step process to redress wrongs: go
to the person alone, if that doesn't work go with a witness, if even
that fails, then haul them up before the whole assembly. We can
consider ourselves absolved if we follow all those steps and may feel
justified, but if we undertake ANY of those steps, especially the
first one, without the calm prescribed by St. Benedict, our effort is
all but guaranteed to fail. We can sputter out: "I went to her and I
got NOWHERE!" Ah, yes, but HOW did you go? "He wouldn't even listen
to the whole community!" Neither would you, if made to feel that
small and worthless in public.
Very often our manner of dealing with others says a great deal about
how we esteem ourselves. A balanced dignity and self-love is shown in
the Holy Rule's approach. It will go a longer way toward ending
conflict than a "wronged prima donna" move.
Watch how people fight and it will be easy to see that many consider any
perceived slight or offense against themselves to be THE original sin. Never
mind that the "offender" might have meant nothing of the sort, or acted in
genuine ignorance or innocence. Forget all about that little item of being
obliged to think the best of others. No quarter, no mercy!
Sigh... Give people like that a lot of room. Being wrong is not a capital
offense, everybody does it at one time or another. People who demonstrate
else by their reactions damage their own standing in the group and rightly so.
Remember that every disagreement hurts the whole group. A family at
dinner with two not speaking is a tense affair. You cannot calm a
child by saying "This is between your Father and me! It has nothing
to do with you." Because it does, it really does. A community in choir
after a huge blow-up between two members is not an exquisite taste of
mystical prayer. Everybody suffers. That's why fixing these fender-
benders is so important and why St. Benedict gave us a way that is so
very likely to achieve results.
Now THAT'S creative peacemaking!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
A blessed Easter to all! Christ is risen, truly He is risen!!
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temproal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Luke, house sale - his house has been on the market for over a year and he really needs to sell it and downsize after the end of a long-term relationship.
Deo Gratias, V. has been offered and very limited place next year on the post-graduate course of his dreams...now he needs the money to pay for it.
Funding for D. to further his studies, or inspiration for something even better.
Continued prayers for baby Grace and her family. She is stable but still on oxygen in the house 24/7, and is waiting to see a specialist.
Jual, young mother of three battling breast cancer. Nodules found in her lung. Having surgery Sunday.
Prayers for safe journey, and back, for an extended family going on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land for almost 2 weeks, and prayers for a wonderful time.
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 8, August 8, December 8
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
For bedding let this suffice:
a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.
The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
to see if any private property be found in them.
If anyone should be found to have something
that he did not receive from the Abbot,
let him undergo the most severe discipline.
And in order that this vice of private ownership
may be cut out by the roots,
the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
that all pretext of need may be taken away.
Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need"
In this manner, therefore,
let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
and not the ill-will of the envious.
But in all his decisions
let him think about the retribution of God.
There is a tendency, both within the cloister and without, to hunt
for dramatic ascetic practices, while ignoring the truly more
difficult matters that lack the fanfare. Lights! Camera! Action! We
must always be wary of the Nora Desmonds of our hearts, who are
always willing to say, a la Sunset Boulevard: "I'm ready for my close-
up now, Mr. DeMille." How we do love to star, even at self-
Well, there's two bad pieces of new for Ms. Desmond et al. First the
penances we choose are usually not the most effective ones. The
best ones are imposed by God or our situation of daily duty and they
become tremendous means of grace when we patiently embrace them.
Second, the ones we do choose can be terrible risks for pride, which
undoes our efforts so insidiously.
What on earth does this have to do with the current chapter? Easy-
and very, very hard, too! The great ascesis here is to aim at
limiting ourselves to "all the necessary articles." There is a
challenge here for everyone from Abbot Primate to newest Oblate
novice. It is a challenge we shall likely never meet fully in life,
so it is something we can always be profitably picking at!
Do you know anyone at all, in any vocation, who has absolutely
nothing beyond what they need? I have known a few; alas I cannot
say it of myself. I think this is an area where we can all look at a challenging
grace-filled ascetic struggle that is placed on us by the Holy Rule.
Down-sizing actually feels great, once one gets over the consumerist
terror of doing so! One will quickly find that, in this area, less
really *IS* more, (unlike poetry and art, architecture and liturgy,
alas...! Minimalism there gets old fast...) We become freer when we
let go of things which hold us more than we realize.
We can get buried in things we are saving to complete unfinalized
plans that will never come to fruition, and while we save them, we
are disheartened by our own failure to use them. Jettison, m'dears,
jettison. As the one Desert Father used to say to the brethren,"Flee,
brothers, flee!" so do I say: "Jettison!"
This has the further charm of fitting well into a depressive's sofa
paralysis, too. Recall how I told you about that resolution to make
three things, no matter how tiny, better each day? Works here, too!
And you will often find to your delight that the trip to dumpster or thrift
shop donation includes 7, 8, or more things!
Keep chipping away and the mountain of our false hearts' desires,
beloveds. And one day may all those chips be ground to sand and may
we stand together on level, smooth quartz
sand, confronted by nothing but the dazzling ocean of God's
unfathomable mercy and love!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]