Holy Rule for June 8
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Continued prayers, please for Michael M. as he continues to suffer great discomfort from his broken back and ribs and for Vince who has been diagnosed with a Severe Respiratory Infection. Thanks be to God that there was no bronchial or lung involvement, as there has been many times in the past.
Urgent prayers for Diana, 63. She suffered a stroke or heart attack Tuesday morning while walking/jogging. Surgery and in very serious condition.
Kelly, who is allowing her abusive husband back in her home...that she has made the right decision.
Chuck and Laurie, still waiting for a listing price on the home they hope to purchase.
For Cheryl, for trust and patience.
Continued prayers for D, no ulcer, possibly meds can control the bleeding, prayers that the cardiac procedure in July can still be performed.
Stuart, 5 nodules on his lung, biopsy surgery on Thursday.
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 7, June 8, October 8
Chapter 7: On Humility
The tenth degree of humility
is that he be not ready and quick to laugh,
for it is written,
"The fool lifts up his voice in laughter" (Eccles. 21:23).
Note that the Holy Rule does NOT say not to laugh at all, but just
not to laugh too fast! In another place, the Rule condemns "idle words"
which can "provoke buffoonery" (read immoderate laughter!) We are
not, however, forbidden to laugh at all. Life together will always produce
some truly comical stuff, and well-ordered appreciation of that gift of
humor is right in line with a good, balanced Benedictine life.
WHAT do we laugh at, and how? Do we find humor at others' expense cruelly?
Do we laugh in such a way as to make the person feel a fool, or in such a way
as to make her feel part of a shared family joke and joy? Do we laugh with
love and affection or with pompous derision? There are, make no mistake,
lots of good and bad ways to laugh.
Ever know someone who laughs too fast, too often, and at things that no one
else finds funny? Sometimes we laugh along, in kindness and charity, just to
keep such a one from feeling as out of place as they well might.
But honestly, what we really feel is that they lack depth or maturity or both.
Christians, all Christians, even Benedictines, are commanded to
rejoice. There is a Christian imperative to joy, even in the midst of
the sufferings promised us in this life. Picture joy with never one
single moment of throw-your-head-back-in-glorious-laughter. My!
What a prim, prudish and bloodless little party animal that would be!
What a great, lifeless remove from the abandon of genuine joy, what a
I have never known a Benedictine so bad as to never laugh at all, and
I have known a few who seemed to be, to all appearances,
dreadful enough. Granted, some of the holiest ones chuckled softly a
good deal more than they roared in laughter, but ALL of them laughed!
Even those holiest ones, who tended to occasionally just chuckle,
smiled a LOT and warmly!
There are, in every age, inappropriate uses of humor. Humor is often
a nervous cover-up, an avoidance, a substitute for real
communication. I think these examples are what the Holy Rule
addresses. We are called to relate to people on a more honest level
than perpetual joking about. That playfulness may be an antechamber
to intimacy, but it is no substitute. All loving friends share jokes,
but if jokes are ALL they share, they are, as yet, neither truly
loving nor friends. It takes something more than that humor alone.
It is because humor, jokes and shared laughter can be that first step
towards intimacy that they are so very necessary for a cenobitic,
community-loving Benedictine heart. Then, of course, there is also
that Christian imperative to JOY!
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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