Holy Rule for May 27
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Bernard, OSB Cam., of Big Sur, and for his community, family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for Clinton and Antoinette, husband and wife in their 80"s hospitalized in the same hospital, for ankle surgery(Antoinette) and her husband with abdominal surgery
Prayers for Mary Eleanor, double pneumonia and settling into a new home.
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 26, May 27, September 26
Chapter 7: On Humility
The first degree of humility, then,
is that a person keep the fear of God before his eyes
and beware of ever forgetting it.
Let him be ever mindful of all that God has commanded;
let his thoughts constantly recur
to the hell-fire which will burn for their sins
those who despise God,
and to the life everlasting which is prepared
for those who fear Him.
Let him keep himself at every moment from sins and vices,
whether of the mind, the tongue, the hands, the feet,
or the self-will,
and check also the desires of the flesh.
Not just the ascent to humility, but every aspect of the spiritual
journey may be improved by meditating on the ends to which our
actions will lead us. How many times does a parent tell a child who
is discouraged and about to quit that the child must think of the
reward (bike, whatever,) at the end of the efforts. "How nice it will
be to have that!" Precisely! It is not just children whose flagging
spirits can be bolstered by recalling the achievement to come!
A great deal of the monastic struggle is just plain distastefully
hard and unpleasant.. Fail to lighten the load a bit by recalling the
joys to come and you heighten the chances of failure. Heaven is real
or our lives mean nothing at all. Trust it's reality, think about
that reality, remind yourself of the wonders at hand.
I write the following as one who has come as close as
possible to believing that absolutely everyone is in heaven as the
limits of Roman Catholic orthodoxy allow. We must believe hell
exists. It is real, it may be empty and we must (out of charity,)
hope to find it so, but hey, we COULD be wrong. Wouldn't be very
nice, but it is just slightly possible that the spheres and wheels of
eternal reward do not spin on the axis of our opinion! Nothing says
things have to be the way we personally think they will be. Nor do
the many visions of hell seen by saints seem to bear out this hope.
They saw people there, alas.
Hell is as real as heaven. Choices as real as those which lead to
heaven can lead to hell. No one can WIN their own salvation, that has
been done once for all by Christ, but anyone at all can LOSE their
salvation. Choose something really dumb which would lead to hell and
it is not a wise practice to assume one will have leisure to repent.
Maybe. Maybe not. A well-timed 18-wheeler truck may just have your
name on its front fender before lunch today. We never know.
[But even in the event of that 18-wheeler, we never know what happens between
God and the soul in the last moments, when we can no longer perceive any
activity or change. Pray and fondly hope that all may be saved in the
mystery of that hidden time!]
I'll bet all of us have done things we would NOT want to do within
seconds of death and facing God. That's what these meditations on
hell and heaven are about. They point out forcefully to us that we
ought not to do things that would put us in that sort of bind.
It's not at all about figuring out whether or not hell exists, it does.
The issue is not who is or isn't frying therein, we have no way of
knowing. All those ideas are railroad sidings which lead to nowhere.
Don't park your train in a dead end. It's a waste of precious time.
Think on heaven and think on hell. If either one (and it's usually
hell,) makes you crazy, balance your thinking. One of the surest
signs of the devil's hands in the mud of our thoughts is loss of
serenity. Truly divine things, even when unspeakably hard, do not
produce the same haunting, panicky feeling that Satan can bring out
of even the tiniest things. Another key is discouragement. If your
obsessed focus is discouraging, that's bad news.
It is, however, crucially important to think on our ends. Don't freak out
on the road to heaven, because Jesus said: "I am the Way." As such,
all the road to heaven is heaven (as St. Catherine of Siena said,)
even when it seems otherwise, because Jesus IS that Way. On the
other hand, rightly and wisely freak out like crazy on any path of action that
leads away from heaven, away from Christ. That is a scary road, indeed!
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery
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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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