Prayers, please, for Frank, who died Friday, and for his family.
Prayers, also, for my parents, Jerome & Louise, both deceased. Today
is their wedding anniversary. NRN. JL
May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfil with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
How great must our God be! I have never known anyone who kept all of
the Holy Rule perfectly, but I have known many that I thought were
great saints, very observant monastics. St. Benedict is clearly
telling us that God is even more than we may attain by observing this
God is so vast and beyond us, we are always taking the tumbling
first steps of toddlers towards Him, but He is always holding on and
beaming with the pride an love of a parent guiding those steps.
Our Holy Rule is filled with awesome things, yet it is only
the "rudiments" of the spiritual life! Ours is the "minimum" Rule,
the least Rule for rank beginners! Nothing but basics here... But ah,
the loftier heights to which those basics can lead!
"Whoever you are, therefore, who are hastening to the heavenly
homeland..." That "whoever" is the true object of all this heartfelt
tenderness of Saint Benedict , the one for whom he wrote! He only
made one qualifier, that of "hastening to the heavenly homeland." It
seems that some of our decisions about who matters and who does not
have employed a somewhat more restrictive standard than that of our
holy Father Benedict...
"Whoever you are..." I don't care who you are or how much I disagree
with you, whether I nearly hate your positions or love them blindly,
it is you I am called to love, to honor to respect, to cherish as a
fellow monastic traveler. You.
"Whoever you are..." I surely don't care whether you're Catholic or
not, in fact I am relieved and delighted that many of you on board
are not! I surely don't care if you are not exactly the same sort of
Catholic as I am, it doesn't matter to me. You do. You have to,
because this is the Holy Rule I have embraced, that we all have.
In the United States, where, through much of our history, Catholics
and Jews shared a roughly equal amount of contempt, great camaraderie
could flourish between the two and still quite often does. Having
said that, it has always amused me that many Jews I know get along
MUCH better with Catholics than they do with Jews who disagree with
them! How like ourselves!
When disagreement happens within our family, we hurt more, it is more
important to us. The differing opinion of a stranger on the subway
would hardly matter at all! Maybe the fact that we CAN get hurt and
angry is a good sign, maybe it means we are at least beginning to
love, but it is HOW we get hurt or angry that we have to examine
very, very closely.
The important thing is not opinion or observance or concepts. The
important thing is you. Whoever you are. Every time I fail that, I
have to get up, apologize and start over. Maybe not right from square
one each time, but again each time. If I ever stop doing those
things, I have stopped being a Benedictine.
Whoever you are, but it's not just me that has to embrace that. You
do, too. We all do. We ourselves are the only ones we can insist upon
reforming, however, the only ones we can make change. That might be
good to keep in mind, whoever you are.
Love and prayers,