Holy Rule for June 1
Prayers for Craig, seeing a specialist to look further into his throat problems. Prayers he is all right.
Prayers for Laurie and Chuck, hoping to buy the home they have fallen in love with after nearly a year of trying to sell their own and just missing out on an auction minimum bid. They really need to catch a break.
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 31, June 1, October 1
Chapter 7: On Humility
The third degree of humility is that a person
for love of God
submit himself to his Superior in all obedience,
imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle says,
"He became obedient even unto death."
Looks a little repetitious here, doesn't it? Almost like St. Benedict
was scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something to use for a
third step, so he'd still wind up with twelve. Not so.
This short passage tempts one to a short reading and that casual
perusal will miss the terribly important things here. These are the
important elements that frame and sustain our obedience: it is done
for love of God, it is submission to another and it is lifelong.
Remove any one of those mainstays and you no longer have a
It is nothing to persevere to the end without love. Nothing. It is
nothing to obey without love, war criminals did that quite admirably. Nor
does it avail us anything at all to be obedient to ourselves: big
challenge there! We'd wind up Sarabaites for sure, worshipping
nothing but the idol of our own wills.
This third degree gives the reason for Benedictine obedience: "for
the love of God." We do not obey for so little as an orderly community,
our obedience is not mere sociology, it is love. More even than just
love, it is love of the One Who is Love at its highest perfection.
We obey Love's delegates, our superiors, unto death. There are two
meanings hidden in that phrase. It can mean martyrdom, obeying even
to the point of being killed, but it also means obeying all of our lives,
till the moment of our deaths. Frankly, few of us will be martyrs, because
few of us are worthy of that grace. ALL of us, however, are called to the
lifelong white martyrdom of obedience, which can often remind us that
St. Teresa of Avila said that the martyrs "bought heaven cheaply", that
they gained in one instant what the rest of us must plod on for many
decades in a lifelong struggle to gain.
Like Christ, for love, we become "obedient even unto death." During
the Spanish Civil War, in the 30's, Communist forces raided the
Benedictine monastery of El Pueyo, taking its 18 monks prisoner. One
of the very significant things about this group is that many were
just average monks, nothing special. All of them were martyred and
one witness said that they went to their death "joyfully, as if going
to a fiesta." These martyrs were members of our Subiaco Congregation
and we are justifiably proud to have them as our brothers.
Benedictine obedience of love, even unto death is decidedly not the
kind that would please earthly tyrants. In fact, they'd gladly kill
us for it. There is quite a likeness to our crucified Lord if we
embrace that peril fully.
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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