Holy Rule for May 17
Prayers, please, for the eternal restof the following, for all their loved ones and all who mourn them:
Luther and especially for his wife, Audrey and their children.
Ann, who has gone to God, for her sons and their families.
Sr. Martha Glaser, OSB of Sioux City, who has gone to God at age 92.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take are of them:
S and A, for safe travels to Italy and a pleasant and spiritually rewarding trip.
Johanna. Trouble with neck and back. She has been unable to rest and is in pain in any position. She got no rest this weekend.
Prayers please for Genny Lo Piccolo, Michael's wife. Excruciating back and hip pain has returned.
Joan and Larry, both in hospice now and reaching the end of their battles with cancer, for their a happy deaths, a peaceful end to their journeys and for all who will mourn them.
Julian, 11, mild epilepsy and learning problems, many special needs in eduation, and for his parents and grandparents.
Arjahn - relationship issues.
Ben real estate and special intention,
Beverly -- recuperation from surgery and pain.
Rich -- health issues.
Deo gratias for past prayers answered.
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 16, May 17, September 16
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.
Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.
However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
This whole reflection and chapter has many, many applications to
family life. (Except that parents are not elected!) Otherwise, it all is very
appropriate for a family!
We elect our abbots, which may make obedience a bit easier for us
than living under an appointed superior, but we are not a pure
democracy. This is so hard for Americans in particular to learn, let
alone value!! In terms of civil government comparisons, we may not be
an absolute autocracy, but we are far from a constitutionally diluted
monarchy! The abbot has a lot of power In fact, in most cases, he
has, as this chapter indicates, the last word.
St. Benedict was far too wise to leave all power to an elective
community. That would frustrate any abbot's efforts to upgrade the
life of his flock. Monastics tend to resist change, let alone reform.
They'd simply vote him down and be done with it. Communities, like
St. Peter, must sometimes be girded by another and led where they
would not go! Pure democracy would make that impossible.
There is a great reminder in this chapter that either the community
or the abbot can be wrong. That is so important for both to remember.
Indeed, if either forgets that fact, the danger to humility is
extreme and we are nothing if not humble. There is also the lesson
here of mutual respect. Even though the abbot actually has the
authority to ignore the community's suggestions, he is bidden to ask
for input. He is asked to receive it with prudence and justice, neither
terrified by every passing whim of the group nor terrifying them with every
passing whim of his own!
So, if you will, the concept of mutual obedience and fraternal love
and respect is writ large over the whole of this chapter. Letting
anyone have that much power is scary if the group as a whole is not
constrained to virtue, but we are. Sure, the ideal can be failed, we
are human, but the ideal is there and it is under the conditions of
that ideal that so much is entrusted with faith to the abbot.
Though St. Benedict states we should never obey commands against God's law,
every other instance demands our obedience and respect. We may think the
Abbot is wrong and, humanly speaking, he might be, but we can never lose by
obedience. Indeed, quite the reverse: we harm ourselves terribly by obstinately
clinging to our own will and resisting.
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]