Holy Rule for May 28
Prayers, please, for Michael, who cracked a vertebra and broke a rib in a fall. He is in considerable pain, although the doctors expect him to recover in two weeks. Prayers also for his wife, Laura and his three young children.
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 27, May 28, September 27
Chapter 7: On Humility
Let a man consider
that God is always looking at him from heaven,
that his actions are everywhere visible to the divine eyes
and are constantly being reported to God by the Angels.
This is what the Prophet shows us
when he represents God as ever present within our thoughts,
in the words "Searcher of minds and hearts is God" (Ps. 7:10)
and again in the words "The Lord knows the thoughts of men" (Ps.
Again he says,
"You have read my thoughts from afar" (Ps. 138:3)
and "The thoughts of people will confess to You" (Ps. 75:11).
In order that he may be careful
about his wrongful thoughts, therefore,
let the faithful brother say constantly in his heart,
"Then shall I be spotless before Him,
if I have kept myself from my iniquity" (Ps. 17:24).
Most of us try to keep our worst secrets and flaws hidden from
others, it's only natural. Therein lies the problem: it's ONLY
natural, and we are called to the supernatural. If we all have a
false self within us that we do see, the one we don't see, which we
project to others whom we wish to impress, is even more false. We
LIKE to be liked, that's no secret, but in order to be liked we try
to make a secret of our seamier sides.
We cannot fool God at all. Our false self is ashes before Him. If we
think He sees only what we project, we have a long, long battle ahead
of us. I hope it is true of all of us that at least some of that
false self falls away when we are alone with God. The more we learn
to see ourselves as truthfully and adequately as He sees us, the
closer we come to genuine humility.
What the Holy Rule is telling us is that our false self is ashes
EVERYWHERE, that the only truth, the only self is the one seen by
God. We cannot see all the truth of that self before death: God is
infinite and omniscient and we are decidedly not. We must, however,
strain our eyes to see every bit we can, seeing ever more and more of
our truth until death calls us home for a complete view.
Catholic that I am, I'll bet when many get that complete view, they
are MOST relieved to jump into purgatory for a (hopefully!) quick
shower before the feast! I know I will be!
The false self might work sometimes- false things generally do for a while-
it's Satan's way of fooling us. It might actually reach some truly out of
touch people, or some who have only a fleeting exposure. It does not
work, nor does any false thing, in the long run. Some people may be
helped in spite of our efforts, but to be really effective, we must
be really true, really transparent. We must stand before others as we
stand before God if we expect to bear real fruit.
I am sure that many probably disapprove of my candor in these posts
about my HIV positive antibody status. [I hasten to add that I
was infected BEFORE becoming a monk.] There is a
rather generally accepted unwritten law of silence. By the grace
of God- and only by His grace- I am a celibate monk. Where is the cause
for shame or timid silence in that condition?
I cannot agree with those reservations. If the only models we can offer to
any kind of sinner are tremblingly closeted numbers living in secrecy and
shame, what sort of well-adjusted sinner would jump at such a deal and return
prodigally home? It is often our shared past sinfulness that makes our best
I think we often dress cowardice and false selves as prudence and
trot them off to the ball as unsullied debutantes. Sorry, beloveds, I
can't pull that off: people would die laughing if I even tried. The coach
would be back to pumpkin and mice LONG before midnight!
I also know what candor has done in my own apostolate. I know that
approaching flawed people as flawed myself is immeasurably helpful
to them and a considerable relief to all concerned, too! I know what
a gift it has been to myself, as well, setting me free to feel I am OK and
at home in a Church that should truly be a home to all.
Over 1,500 years ago, St. Benedict called us all to the humility, to
the truth that St. Thomas Aquinas defined as: "the agreement of the
mind with reality." Amen! That was the truth he wished us to present
to ourselves and to the world, as best we could. The closer we get to
extinguishing the false self in every arena, the closer we are to
God. The closer we are to God, the greater good we can accomplish for
His Body, His people.
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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