Holy Rule for Apr. 30
Prayers, please, for Jan who is having surgery for suspected colon cancer, her older sister is dying from colon cancer and Jan is having trouble dealing with her own situation.
Prayers, please, for Angus who is suffering from infection in the sutures of a recent operation. He is in great pain.
Prayers for George, he is riddled with cancer, the most painful area is his throat. He has a grown family and a wife who is very elderly like himself..
Prayers for Prince William and Catherine Middleton on their marriage; and Anne and John as they celebrate 33 years of theirs. Ad Multos Annos.
Prayers too for Val facing bowel surgery today.
Deo gratias, Ann, for whom we prayed, e is now on a normal ward and recovering 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! Thanks so much. JL
April 30, August 30, December 30
Chapter 72: On the Good Zeal Which They Ought to Have
Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness
which separates from God and leads to hell,
so there is a good zeal
which separates from vices and leads to God
and to life everlasting.
This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice
with the most fervent love.
Thus they should anticipate one another in honor (Rom. 12:10);
most patiently endure one another's infirmities,
whether of body or of character;
vie in paying obedience one to another --
no one following what she considers useful for herself,
but rather what benefits another;
tender the charity of sisterhood chastely;
fear God in love;
love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity;
prefer nothing whatever to Christ.
And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!
This chapter, full of self-evident and beautiful prose should serve
as a short rule of life, a summary of all that has gone before it.
Live this one, and you're all right: the details from the other
chapters will take care of themselves. Little wonder then that its
principal points are love, obedience and humility, practiced in the
chastity of wholeness. (Chastity, it must be recalled, is proper to
every state in life. It is the well-ordered, balanced and whole use
of sexuality.) Even less wonder that, to call Scripture in to witness
here, "the greatest of these is love." Merton's one-line Holy Rule
summary also applies: "Love is the Rule."
The beauty here is so great that we often do not spend enough time
looking at its converse: "the evil zeal of bitterness." What a great
turn of phrase! Like many of us, St. Benedict seems to have known
some whose bitterness turned into an energetic zeal, a way of life, a
broken power line in a windy world that could strike others or
themselves without warning.
And "zeal" is precisely the word! People can put such frighteningly
zealous levels of effort into self-loathing bitterness. It becomes a
full-time job, one which requires so much energy that it's a marvel
that they continue. Bitter anger, self-hatred, unforgiving ill-will
towards all or most, these are viciously involuted cycles. They turn
on the self, malignantly. They injure and alienate others to make
one's twisted world view remain correct. They never rest, the fist is
always clenched, the hand never open.
While all things are possible with God, the terrible thing is that this
self-hatred sometimes seems to never gets fixed in some people. It is a life
Then, prayer is the only answer, but prayer can win a happy death, when no
activity or change is evident to us. The souls and God have their own
own relations which our eyes may not see, nor our ears hear.
In any situation, but perhaps worse when the sufferer is one's spouse
or parent or child, this bitterness is a terrible cross, for both the
sufferer and those around her. It might seem cold comfort to say that
it can make all involved saints, but it truly is not cold comfort at
all. Being saints is the only thing, ultimately, that matters. I hope
by now some of my crosses of the past are praying for me, protecting
me, by their prayers, from what once ailed them!
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]