Holy Rule for May 4
I am glad that the Vatican statement about the death of Osama bin Laden, while in no way glossing over his many terrrible deeds, pointed out that a Christian may never rejoice at the death of another human being. We also must hope in God's mercy for everyone, supernatural charity, the bare minimum we are required to have for all, means that we can never wish another to be in hell. Let us pray- no matter how difficult- for God's mercy for bin Laden and that he was open to receiving it. Remember in prayer, too, all his innocent victims and all the families shattered by his terrorist acts.
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
January 3, May 4, September 3
And the Lord, seeking his laborer
in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
"Who is the one who will have life,
and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
And if, hearing Him, you answer,
"I am the one,"
God says to you,
"If you will have true and everlasting life,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips that they speak no guile.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
And when you have done these things,
My eyes shall be upon you
and My ears open to your prayers;
and before you call upon Me,
I will say to you,
'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).
What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
Behold, in His loving kindness
the Lord shows us the way of life.
The tenderness of St. Benedict, as well as his tender image of God,
is evident all through this portion, harking back to his fatherly
affection at the beginning of the Prologue. The intensity, the
sweetness of the last lines today is so great that it borders on too
much. This must be St. Benedict at his all but gushingly most
sincere, and that is a good time to listen with extra care to him,
since he doesn't just gush on every other page!
In the midst of all this sweetness, look at the question he puts in
the Lord's mouth: "Who is the one who will have life and desires to
see good days?" Granted, it is a quote from the Psalms, but St.
Benedict could have used something else, or written his own, or
employed a rhetorical question. He didn't, though, he used this one
and that is most fortunate.
He does not have God in the teeming marketplace hollering out: "Who
wants to be a monk? Who wants to be a nun? Who wants to be an
Oblate?" (Chuckle: if God DID call out "Who wants to be an Oblate?",
how many people you know would yell back: "What's an Oblate??") No
doubt, for some on the monastic way, those may have been the first
questions. For many others, it was not nearly that direct.
This question allows us to ponder (if God and you will pardon the
phrase,) the Divine sneakiness. How many of the stories we hear of
how people came to the monastic way and were drawn to the Benedictine
life give witness to God's loving "sneakiness." God cannot lie and
His query here is not a lie, but He can certainly CHOOSE the truth He
uses to draw us. Like any parent of a stubborn child, He knows that
some approaches work better than others.
I know Brother Bernard Aurentz, now dead, joined St. Leo because he
liked Florida and thought the monastery was on the Gulf of Mexico!
The picture of a palm tree by water in a vocation ad sure sold him!
He just didn't realize they were on a large lake, 40 miles inland!
God didn't deceive him, He just didn't make the geography evident
until the guy arrived and stayed for the rest of his life.
God doesn't trick us in a wrong way, but He may allow us to do the
right thing for the wrong reason! No doubt He knows that's the only
way He could have gotten us in the door!
There is a lot more than sneakiness in this question, however. How
many times, when speaking of monastic life, or married life, or any
vocation, do we stress its harsher aspects? To some extent, monastic
life and married life get the brunt of this: "Oh, it isn't easy,
blah, blah, blah...It's no cinch, there's a lot of hardship." OK,
there is, no problem there, but there is also a lot of sweetness if
any vocation is done right.
How many people would have gotten married if the proposal included a
litany of night-feedings and diaper pails, much less if the proposal
could have announced the birth of a severely handicapped child or the
paralysis of the spouse or the tragedy of an auto accident far in the
future? We do both marriage and monastic life a great harm when we
emphasize only the difficult things.
There IS joy in marriage, great joy, and there is in the monastic
way, too. Just like any good proposal, God asks us to respond to the
good things He is offering and they are not slight!
By the way, a traditional joke used when a monastic is writing his or her
profession chart is to tell the person to leave a lot of space between the
lines: so God can add things later!! He has a way of doing that, with or
without the spaces between the lines!!
Love and prayers,
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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]