Holy Rule for May 13
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Erma and for all who mourn her.
Prayers for the Benedictine Sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, Alabama as they recover from the effects of recent tornaodes. No one at the monastery was killed but there was much damage and some injuries.
Prayers for the Benedictine Sisters at Holy Name Monastery who are entering into meetings, discussions and dialogue that will strongly influence their future.
Prayers for Luna, a 3 year old who tomorrow will undergo testing for Leukemia and for her family who is suffering already at the possibility of a positive diagnosis.
Also, prayers for Margarita. who is dying of cancer, after her third trial of chemotherapy-for peace in her soul.
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 12, May 13, September 12
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Let her make no distinction of persons in the monastery.
Let her not love one more than another,
unless it be one whom she finds better
in good works or in obedience.
Let her not advance one of noble birth
ahead of one who was formerly a slave,
unless there be some other reasonable ground for it.
But if the Abbess for just reason think fit to do so,
let her advance one of any rank whatever.
Otherwise let them keep their due places;
because, whether slaves or free, we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28)
and bear in equal burden of service
in the army of the same Lord.
For with God there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2:11).
Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight:
if we be found better than others in good works and humility.
Therefore let the Abbess show equal love to all
and impose the same discipline on all
according to their deserts.
Choosing favorites is a terribly risky business for any of us,
parent, abbot or supervisor. Our own self-image (or lack thereof,)
can get very tangled in this process. If we choose wrongly, it
empowers one and strangles the rest, to one degree or another.
Christopher Marlowe (+1593) wrote a great short poem about love at
first sight. Ah, the tragic romantic in me absolutely LOVED
that poem- at first sight! I dog-eared the page many years ago, to
more easily find it on occasions such as this!
"It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows, let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Whoever loved, that loved not at first sight?"
(from "Hero and Leander")
Big fan of love at first sight here. Happened to me several times.
All of 'em were wrong. Had I looked more closely "at first sight" to
what Marlowe was saying, even he knew that what we see "is censured
by our eyes." Of course, Marlowe lived in Elizabethan England. Such
loves ruled by fate and impervious to reason were all the rage.
That was exactly the type of love for those under
us that St. Benedict said to avoid. The poem has an entirely
different message when one considers that ALL our brethren and
children and comrades are gold ingots, all are stripped runners,
devoid of fashion or rank. Marlowe may chalk the preference up to
Fate, but Fate has been an awfully handy catch-all through the
One can hang things on Fate that are so embarrassing one
would rather not own up to one's complicity in them at all! Fate,
however, is about as real as the "unseen hand" that keeps free
markets so equitable. Both are lovely fantasies. Neither are good
means of choice.
I only know of two monastic favorites who were actually loved by all
and really were fabulous people. I have lived with (and under!) many
more abbatial favorites who were not, who fooled no one but the
abbot. Of the families I have known , the favored child was not always
the best. In doing that memory work, however, I warmly recall a family of
11 children where no favorites existed. They truly all were gold ingots.
What wonderful parents they had!
St. Benedict lived and wrote over a thousand years before Marlowe,
but he knew well the human bent to love at first sight, to love
without reason or rhyme. He quite rightly points out that this is one
of the many human tendencies we have to conquer. If we don't, it will
harm us and harm those under our care, including the favored one.
Favoritism harms the one in charge, too. Since others can see all too
well what the parent or boss cannot, it diminishes their trust in the
authority figure. If she can be so glaringly wrong about this, why
not about something else? Every person is fallible, but a careless
superior can emphasize her own lack of brilliance by poor choices.
This doesn't make governing or being governed any easier for anyone.
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]