Holy Rule for May 21
Please, prayers, for Jayden (age 12)...hit by car and in coma.
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Bob, oblate of St. Andrew's...died Sunday after a valiant battle with melanoma.
Prayers, please, for Laurie and Chuck, hoping to buy a house in the mountains after lots of hardships.
January 20, May 21, September 20
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
To fear the Day of Judgment.
To be in dread of hell.
To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
To keep death daily before one's eyes.
To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life.
To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
When evil thoughts come into one's heart, to dash them against Christ
And to manifest them to one's spiritual mother.
To guard one's tongue against evil and depraved speech.
Not to love much talking.
Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
To listen willingly to holy reading.
To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
Daily in one's prayers, with tears and sighs, to confess one's past
sins to God, and to amend them for the future.
Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh; to hate one's own will.
To obey in all things the commands of the Abbess, even though she
herself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the
Lord's precept, "Do what they say, but not what they do."
Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be
holy, that one may be truly so called.
Why manifest one's evil thoughts to a spiritual mother or father?
Heavens, many in communions that practice Confession have trouble
enough stammering out our sins with a generic mention of evil
thoughts, let alone a detailed description of them!
By the time he wrote this, St. Benedict had no doubt listened to a
LOT of monastics' confess their evil thoughts. He knew the carefree,
breezy generalities of those who lacked depth and he also knew the
excruciating details of the scrupulous, who had too much to tell. What
he must have had to listen to in those years! Why on earth would he
recommend a practice so difficult for both the father and the
Because it works, as AA and other Twelve Step members could readily
tell you. It offers an outside, objective opinion, a more impartial
estimation of one's progress or lack thereof and a chance to give
pertinent advice in the struggle.
You can also get a fairly good barometer of where a person's struggles
are focused by knowing where she is tempted. Satan does not waste time
and effort, he does not duplicate services. If you are doing a wonderful job
of running yourself to hell on a rail in a given area, you can be pretty sure
he'll leave you alone. Remember, there are the world and the flesh to
help him out. The devil delegates to one or the other!
Some of our evil thoughts DO come from us, and these may be very
informative, but others do not, and these also, give a better picture
of where we actually are. A handy rule of thumb is that if a thought
distresses you, upsets you, you likely did not will it. Try to let it
go and be done with it. The fact that we are upset often means the thought
did not come from us, we wouldn't care otherwise.
Real assaults of Satan that are terribly
noticeable usually come at a time when we are progressing. (Of
course, there are subtle ones day in, day out, but the biggies
usually mean we're doing SOMETHING right!) Hideous temptations
are often a good sign, not a bad one: they can mean our progress has
riled up the devil's anger. If we stop and look at some of those hideous
temptations, to blasphemy, for instance, we can clearly see that they are
not like us, not from us. Horrible thoughts that we would never dream of
seriously thinking come from the Evil One.
AA knew they were offering a spiritual program of recovery to people
from all faiths, as well as to people of no religious background.
They knew some Churches had one-on-one confession, others did not, so
they included it in the 12 steps, stating that each must make known
to oneself, to God AND to another "the exact nature" of their wrongs.
Heavy stuff, there, but why?
Because God, wonderful though He is, often seems not to talk back, or if
He does, to speak indirectly in ways that many of us miss. Because we
cannot tell from our own inventory what another person can tell us
about ourselves: we're too close to the subject to be objective!
AA just requires a one-time shot, what Catholics would call
a "general Confession" of all one's past sins. Many people dread it,
but I have never heard anyone come away from the experience without
praise for it. What a weight was lifted from them!
Our fears and shame are so terrible when they are horrible secrets to
us alone. They paralyze us, wholly or partially, but they ALWAYS impede us.
Break that panicky isolation, tell the worst and, finding that your
listener has at least not dropped dead of shock, you are on the
way to learning something wonderfully necessary. None of us are
hopeless, none of us are unlovable (or unloved!)
For all of our Oblates who come from Christian traditions that do not
practice individual confession, I recommend it- so does St. Benedict!
If AA members can feel so freed and cleansed and uplifted by one
shot, think what a regular dose of such reality could do for one!
A word of caution, however, for those to whom such confession is new.
AA does not recommend that you spill your sins out to just anyone.
It can take time to find the right person.
Religious Confession, howver, is an obligation for Catholics. Finding a regular
confessor may take time, but one cannot hold off confessing in the meantime.
Pray to the Holy Spirit to find the right priest for you. Ask God to use the
priest's lips to speak to you. I can't tell you how many times I have made this
last prayer and had it richly answered. God does use His priests.
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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