Holy Rule for May 14
Please pray for safe travel for B., as she travels to Arizona, flies there and will rent a car to travel to destination.
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 13, May 14, September 13
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
In her teaching
the Abbess should always follow the Apostle's formula:
"Reprove, entreat, rebuke" (2 Tim. 4:2);
threatening at one time and coaxing at another
as the occasion may require,
showing now the stern countenance of a mistress,
now the loving affection of a mother.
That is to say,
it is the undisciplined and restless
whom she must reprove rather sharply;
it is the obedient, meek and patient
whom she must entreat to advance in virtue;
while as for the negligent and disdainful,
these we charge her to rebuke and correct.
And let her not shut her eyes to the faults of offenders;
but, since she has the authority,
let her cut out those faults by the roots
as soon as they begin to appear,
remembering the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo (1 Kings 2-4).
The well-disposed and those of good understanding
let her correct with verbal admonition the first and second time.
But bold, hard, proud and disobedient characters
she should curb at the very beginning of their ill-doing
by stripes and other bodily punishments,
knowing that it is written,
"the fool is not corrected with words" (Prov. 18:2; 29:19),
"Beat your son with the rod,
and you will deliver his soul from death"(Prov. 23:13-14).
As our world grows more populated and less personalist, "One size
fits all" becomes a favorite chant of marketing. We all know that's
usually not true, and it is surely not true of parenting or
governing, as St. Benedict points out. This chapter firmly
contradicts the lie of such marketing. We are all individuals, all
treasures with different needs. Generic brand parenting will not do.
I was a miserable failure at discipline when teaching high school
sophomore English. I am sure it is an experience neither they nor I
would like to repeat. I tried to treat them like college students or
adults, a point they had not reached. In my naiveté, I expected them
to respond in kind. When they didn't, matters escalated between us, but not
into anything that did much good.
I was terribly at fault: I didn't see who they were, I gave them what *I*
would have liked to have had, but I was already in my mid-thirties with
a lot of life experience. I wasn't serving their needs, because I didn't
know who they were, nor, in that first year, did I even know how to find
out! So, like many before me, I substituted what I would want or need and
proclaimed that one size would fit all. Wrong! NOT!
Any abbess or parent who wants to try my way, not St. Benedict's,
will quickly find that it is as hard on them as it is on their charges.
My year of high school teaching was horrible and I hated it. My
students hated it, too. It was terrible for both of us at many, many
points. The light that entered in from time to time, the genuine
enjoyment of each other was only a flash that appeared rarely, faded
soon. I pray for those kids (and for those who taught me!) every day
of my life.
St. Benedict is not only moderate and balanced, he sees the person
clearly. He is a personalist of the first rank. Practice his
principles of government without the checks and balances of this
portion and you will be very displeased with the results. It
sometimes takes St. Benedict a while to make his point. Cut him short
before he has, and you will often wind up very sorry. Always let him
finish: the whole is a thing of beauty, but the parts may fall far
short of that.
Mercifully, God alone can bring good out of anything, so He can even
use our wrong-headedness to bring others to Him. He can do that with
obedience, too, but if we give Him a bit less chaos by following
Benedict's methods rather than our own, it will be better for all
To a certain point, some people thrive on a lot of leeway, others do
not. Some people need rigid order, others will wither under that. A
superior who is into super control will soon be left with none but
those who need that and a few conflicted types who can at least
A superior who is too easy-going can also do harm. Sad is the
community where the only thing that will ever get all the horses back into
the barn is death, and a few of such exist.
This is not so different from the message throughout the Holy Rule:
concern for the other, not the self, eyes on God for the good of all! And, as
the old-timers would say: "Keep your eyes on your own choir stall." Trust me,
you will ALWAYS find plenty to keep you busy there if you are honest
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]