Holy Rule for June 14
Prayers for Carlson. He has a type of Leukemia, and will be undergoing chemo-therapy this Wednesday and Thursday. Prayers that the treatment is successful.
Ardent prayers for Mr. K and his family. He is having a very risky and life-threatening cardiac surgery today.
Prayers for Michael LoPiccolo and his wife, Gen, on thier 53rd wedding
anniversary. Michael does a lot for us and his many other lists and contacts, so
ardent prayers for them both. Ad multos annos, many more happy, holy years!
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 13, June 14, October 14
Chapter 11: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays
the hour of rising for the Night Office should be earlier.
In that Office let the measure already prescribed be kept,
namely the singing of six Psalms and a verse.
Then let all be seated on the benches in their proper order
while the lessons and their responsories are read from the book,
as we said above.
These shall be four in number,
with the chanter saying the "Glory be to the Father"
in the fourth responsory only,
and all rising reverently as soon as he begins it.
After these lessons
let six more Psalms with antiphons follow in order, as before,
and a verse;
and then let four more lessons be read with their responsories
in the same way as the former.
After these let there be three canticles
from the book of the Prophets,
as the Abbot shall appoint,
and let these canticles be chanted with "Alleluia."
Then when the verse has been said
and the Abbot has given the blessing,
let four more lessons be read,
from the New Testament,
in the manner prescribed above.
After the fourth responsory
let the Abbot begin the hymn "We praise You, O God."
When this is finished
the Abbot shall read the lesson from the book of the Gospels,
while all stand in reverence and awe.
At the end let all answer "Amen,"
and let the Abbot proceed at once
to the hymn "To You be praise."
After the blessing has been given,
let them begin the Morning Office.
This order for the Night Office on Sunday
shall be observed the year around,
both summer and winter;
unless it should happen (which God forbid)
that the brethren be late in rising,
in which case the lessons or the responsories
will have to be shortened somewhat.
Let every precaution be taken, however,
against such an occurrence;
but if it does happen,
then the one through whose neglect it has come about
should make due satisfaction to God in the oratory.
The idea of Vigils has very ancient Christian roots: watching all
night in prayer, particularly before Sunday, in anticipation of the
Second Coming (that they be found waiting, with lamps trimmed,) and
from the tradition that Jesus rose from the dead at dawn. The
connections of light/darkness and Son/sun are rich. Anyone who has
ever done an all-night Vigil can tell you it is a memorable
experience. They are frequently done, even in our own day, on Mount
Athos, lasting literally all night and including the chanting of the
With all this, it's no surprise that St. Benedict adds some extra
high church length to Vigils of Sunday. He still, however, makes a
lot of allowances for the monastics, even those who (God forbid!)
oversleep!! His Vigils are long, but they are quite pointedly NOT all
night! Doing an all night vigil for Sunday and every big feast would
do in a community of farmers in short order.
Many people who cut their teeth on pre-1964 Merton works, like "The
Silent Life" or "The Waters of Siloe", might think that the
Benedictines were a rather mitigated lot and the Cistercians were the
only ones who REALLY got the Holy Rule right. Well, yes and no... We
ARE a mitigated lot, we started out that way and have continued on
that middle road. St. Benedict designed his Rule as an adaptation and
yes, mitigation, of Egyptian monastic life, suitable for European
types. And no, the Cistercians are not at all necessarily the ones
who "got it right," as their own adaptations after 1964 clearly
Our long history is one of decline and repeated reform. The reforms,
understandably enough have always been aimed at sweeping away
mitigations and laxity. Predictably, they have often swept away a
good deal of moderation in the bargain, as well! Also, predictably,
the reforms themselves decay and have to be reformed: why do you
think there are Common Observance Cistercians and Trappists- two
Merton, like any of us, changed and grew. In his later years,
questions of observance and mitigation were at least less prominent
and sometimes totally absent. Right now it is probable that BOTH
Benedictines and Cistercians are living in their most relaxed and
mitigated conditions ever. That's not all bad. History might tell us
some of it will need tinkering, tightening up, but God will send the
men and women to do that in His time.
Rather than adopt an attitude of ALL-NIGHT, ALL the time,
get-every-boot-camp-in-toughest--shape and so forth, why not bask a
bit in the fact that we were born mitigated monastics and are meant to be so?
Nothing wrong with that, so long as we don't carry it too far. In the 19th
century, Russian Orthodox Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov said that the monks
of the latter days would NOT be doing many of the great works of old, but
that the peculiar conditions of the world in which they had to live would
balance things out. The modern and post-modern monastic faces many new obstacles
of which the Fathers and Mothers of old could have at best only dimly imagined.
When I first read Merton, he had some growing ahead of him and I was
14...didn't make for a very complete grasp on my part! Now, instead
of scorning relaxed observance in horror, I welcome it. Both Merton
and I learned something on different schedules: God gives certain
monasteries their particular observances because they are the only
place in the world some people could ever become monks. And this is
as true of relaxed observance as it is of strict!
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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