Holy Rule for May 18
Prayers, please, for TJ and Andrea, on their 15th anniversary, also for Zachary, Abigail and Cydny, their children. Deo gratias and congratulations to Andrea, who just got her Master's degree and also prayers of thanks: she couldn't have done it without the help of all her family.
Continued prayers for Genny Lo Piccolo, her sciatica pain is worse.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Jan, on the 6th anniversary of her death.
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 17, May 18, September 17
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart's fancy;
and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
But if anyone should presume to do so,
let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
At the same time,
the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
and in observance of the Rule,
knowing that beyond a doubt
he will have to render an account of all his decisions
to God, the most just Judge.
But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
be of lesser importance,
let him take counsel with the seniors only.
It is written,
"Do everything with counsel,
and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).
This reading completes the chapter and offers us the capstone to the
grace and beauty of St. Benedict's government. The Abbot "should do
all things in the fear of God." Give just a brief shot at applying
that to Cardinals, Bishops, and Pastors, as well as parents, bosses
and all the laity. What a different world we would have!
Abbot Charles Mohr of St. Leo used to say: "Keep the Holy Rule and
the Rule will keep you." How true that is! If an Abbot acts in the
fear of God, his community can be united in pride behind him, even
decades later. In 1908, when Florida was still a hotbed of Ku Klux
Klan activity, both racist and anti-Catholic, Abbot Charles accepted
George Miller, a black man who had applied to enter the monastery.
He ignored the threat that predictably came in the mail, and stood
firm. Though George, of his own will, did not stay, he was welcome in
Abbot Charles' eyes, a brother in Christ. Abbot Charles' actions
preached that to any willing to listen, as well as to quite a few who
Abbot Francis, St. Leo's second Abbot, was born in Bavaria and fluent
in German. In World War II, when POW camps in Florida began to fill up with
German Catholics, Abbot Francis went calmly to minister to their sacramental
needs, something his facility in their language made eminently
Abbot Francis was no doubt the saintliest man to govern
the Abbey thus far, and he emulated the gentle love of his patron,
St. Francis de Sales. That gentle kindness prompted him to invite the
German prisoners to come to the Abbey for Christmas Midnight Mass in
1944. There were 500 German voices singing "Silent Night" in its
Twelve days later, arson destroyed the prep school gym. Nothing could
be proven, but many suspected the reason. Abbot Francis continued his
ministry . He invited the POW's to come back for Easter, 1945. Two
weeks after the Easter visit, St. Mary's Science Hall was torched.
Abbot Francis did not budge.
This was in war time, the community was hardly rolling in cash, they
were building a Church and they had lost two terribly important
components of their principal livelihood, a residential prep school
for boys. Not only the buildings, but how many might fear to send
their sons back to a campus of arson? What if it were a dormitory
next time? Abbot Francis held firm. He did not protect capital or
real estate. He protected the honor of God, period.
The community is still very proud of him to this day, justly so. No
one called for his ouster, because he protected things of God. That
was a gutsy courage that none but his most implacable enemies could
possibly hate. Do genuine, fearless good and the faithful will unite
behind you in a formidable host.
Abbot Francis died when I was 13. I had the inestimable privilege of
meeting him while still in grade school and his kindness over his
last years to me, a mere child, was touching, indeed. I'm a 9 year
old kid and an Abbot was sending me postcards when he traveled to
My family was lower middle class, not rich. We were, as such,
completely unused to much fuss from prelates! Abbot Francis did not
pander to our family, there was no reason to, he just loved us. I was
so proud and I am so very, very proud to have known him, a privilege
denied to many of his sons in my generation and later.
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]