Holy Rule for May 11
Prayers please for a ten year old girl, Magdelina, who is to undergo a second op on one of her eyes that is turned ... the first op done on this eye was unsuccessful.
Prayers for John Patrick, college admission interview.
Prayers for Carol, recurrent cancer.
Prayers for Niko, 20's, critically ill and spinal injuries after a car accident.
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 10, May 11, September 10
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Let the Abbess always bear in mind
that at the dread Judgment of God
there will be an examination of these two matters:
her teaching and the obedience of her disciples.
And let the Abbess be sure
that any lack of profit
the master of the house may find in the sheep
will be laid to the blame of the shepherd.
On the other hand,
if the shepherd has bestowed all her pastoral diligence
on a restless, unruly flock
and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior,
then she will be acquitted at the Lord's Judgment
and may say to the Lord with the Prophet:
"I have not concealed Your justice within my heart;
Your truth and Your salvation I have declared" (Ps. 39:11).
"But they have despised and rejected me" (Is. 1:2; Ezech. 20:27).
And then finally let death itself, irresistible,
punish those disobedient sheep under her charge.
Be of good cheer, all abbots and parents! St. Benedict wrote this well
over a thousand years before the dawn of psychiatry. He was very holy
and very wise, but he was a creation of his own times. I think it is
safe to say that, in St. Benedict's time and for many centuries
afterward, there was a tendency to look at most behavior as choice,
not compulsion. Things were somewhat more black and white. Under a
system such as that given in the first half of this reading, a lot of
parents and authority figures of today would fry without a doubt.
I needed exactly the parents I got, so did my Dad, so did my Mom, so did
their parents. That's just another way of saying that we are all victims of
victims,a concept of which St. Benedict probably would never have dreamed.
[Or, that we are all beneficiaries of beneficiaries, because that, too, is true.]
But in some way each of us is a victim or beneficiary of something which shapes
us, as are our parents and so on. We aren't perfect. We also all pass on some of
what shaped us, whether consciously or not. May we always pass on only the
Consider the marvel of God's tailoring one abbess to 50 nuns; quite a
deal, isn't it? Now consider this. For each of us to get our perfect
set of parents, here's a PARTIAL picture of God's fine tuning.
Obviously, the whole chain has to fit or it comes out wrong. We each
have 8,388,608 21st great-grandparents, with a total of parents and
grandparents in those 24 generations of 16,777,214. (Don't forget that
each of those forebears had the same number of ancestors, too!)
That total is comfortably more than the combined populations of the
cities of New York, Boston, Chicago, Tampa, Washington, DC, and the
entire State of Missouri. And, for a person alive today, that would
probably only get you back to about the year 1000 AD. Begin to get
the picture of how God has thought of us (and them!) from all
eternity? There's a lot more than 50 nuns going on here, in fact,
there was a different and equal set of forbears for each of those 50
nuns AND their abbess.
By the way, St. Benedict had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit.
Hence, although he wrote the second part of today's reading, about
the acquittal of the abbess who's done her best, without the benefit
of modern psychology, it nevertheless fits right in to our current
awareness. No one can give what they don't have (or, if they do, it's
only the working of grace that makes that possible.)
I can't teach you Hebrew, I don't know it. But, if I was suddenly presented
with the fact that I'd HAVE to teach Hebrew, I'd buy a beginning text and
we'd stumble through somehow together. How very like parenting,
except that, for most of our partial crowd of sixteen million, there
were no textbooks!
Parents and abbatial types, take heart. God not only CAN use
anything, He HAS to use anything. The human standards throughout
history after Eden have made that more than certain. God knows and
loves each of us. He is more parent than we are and He is, unlike
If a six year old child had been forced to plan the Coronation of the
Queen, fifty-nine years ago in London, it probably would have been
MUCH different. For one thing, there'd probably have been a lot more
elephants and clowns in the parade! Most of us with any kind of
hearts would have smiled at the child's efforts, been surprised that
they actually did so well. That, m'dears, is exactly the attitude of
God toward us, except that He isn't surprised: He knew all along that
we could do well with His grace and help!
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,
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