Holy Rule for June 6
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physicl health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Val, knee surgery, that it help her immense burden of pain, and patience for her disabled husband, who needs and demands so much. Prayers also for their daughter, Fiona, visually impaired, who has started her own business. In this time of austerity, it is difficult to make such a venture viable, no matter how great the talent and commitment.
D., test for internal bleeding issues, possibly from heart meds. The heart condition presents a daily risk of stroke.
G.H., financial concerns
C., ongoing (though improved) mental health issues.
Patrick, bladder region cancer and radiation/chemo.
Michael, alcoholism, had a return to drinking lately, and for his sister.
Dave, struggling with night shift work, having been on days for decades, and his wife, Rose, working days, but who must drive him to and from work, as Dave isn't a driver. They are nearing retirement age and this is a great hardship for them.
Father A., dementia, and prayers for his brothers in the monastery who care so lovingly for this gentle soul.
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
February 5, June 6, October 6
Chapter 7: On Humility
The eighth degree of humility
is that a monk do nothing except what is commended
by the common Rule of the monastery
and the example of the elders.
Well, this one looks deceptively simple enough. Just try it! I speak
as one who has frequently failed it and who sometimes* fails it
still. [* I only fail it on special occasions: Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday.... you get the picture.] This step of humility,
by the way, will translate very easily into family life, the
neighborhood, or the workplace.
The goal here is not just external uniformity so much as internal
detachment. We are deeply attached to the things we do. Demanding to
do things our own way is not humble. When observers come to the
monastery, for the monks or the nuns, I often see little quirks of
external piety in church and think: "Well, that'll have to go..."
One cannot profitably go through monastic formation cherishing the
notion that one has got it right and one's elders have it wrong. You
may even be right, or the matter may be completely neutral. (The
term "optional" comes to mind, but that was NOT used to express
neutrality; in the 60's and 70's it was a euphemism for "abolished."!)
That's not the issue here. Detachment and humility are.
When we singularize ourselves without real moral imperative, the
message given to the whole community is "I know better." That this is
not warmly received in a junior or newcomer should come as no
surprise. A monastic family is like any spouse: you had better not
marry what you hope to change them into, but only what they ARE. If
we fail this, we change "Thy will be done" into "MY will be done!"
and we do so with sorry results.
No spouse is perfect, neither is any family, monastery or job, but if
you expect to change them right off the bat, you're doomed to woe. In
monastery and marriage and workplace, the only person you can REALLY
change is yourself and the sooner you get around to doing that, the
better for all concerned.
The sad thing is that sometimes these things
we do on our own have nothing to do with piety at all. They are,
pure and simple, revolt, passive aggression, small, though very
public ways of expressing our scorn for this or that concept or
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]