Holy Rule for June 26
Prayers, please, for Father Zuhlsdorf, blogger at What Does the Prayer Really Say, (which I enjoy and recommend,) two very special intentions.
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.
February 25, June 26, October 26
Chapter 19: On the Manner of Saying the Divine Office
We believe that the divine presence is everywhere
and that "the eyes of the Lord
are looking on the good and the evil in every place" (Prov. 15:3).
But we should believe this especially without any doubt
when we are assisting at the Work of God.
To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words,
"Serve the Lord in fear" (Ps. 2:11)
and again "Sing praises wisely" (Ps. 46:8)
and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to You" (Ps.
Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves
in sight of the Godhead and of His Angels,
and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way
that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.
Students act differently (usually worse, alas...) for a substitute
teacher. Employees are different when the boss is off for the day.
These assortments of different behavior are pretty much shot through
the human condition, though not necessarily always a good idea.
Sometimes, we conduct ourselves in an artificially nice (or bold)
manner because we do NOT know with whom we are dealing. Our
politeness or our shyness or boldness can be terribly false facades.
Whether our projections are attempts to be cool and with it or
decidedly cultured and subtle, they can be masks at times.
The message here is no masks. Know Him in Whose presence and House
you are. But really KNOW Him. That can take a lifetime of trying on
and shedding as false different modes of conduct.
God, like so many things, is very Benedictine in His perfection,
which stands between the extremes in which we are prone to think of
Him. If you think God is pretty much like the strictest teacher you
ever had, who ran a real death camp of a classroom, guess again.
You're dead wrong.
On the other hand, neither is God some smiling, spinelessly
"tolerant" chap Who will put up with any and all behavior with a shrug,
though I surely hope He has chuckled at some of my earthier moments
more than once! God has standards and He has shared them with us.
Both extreme views of God are wrong, not surprisingly! The middle
perfection of God is His love and His mercy, His Heart which knows the
demands of justice better than anyone, but always, always tends to
mercy. Mercy is God's greatest attribute, the perfect function of His
God is Parent and Creator and we are always creatures, but we are not
always children. We have to grow to the adult relationship with God
that fortunate children eventually share with their parents. (If we
never got to do this, and many haven't, establishing such honesty
with God is possibly going to be a bit of a chore... Keep trying!)
As we grow in our knowledge of God, our behavior around Him (and we
are ALWAYS "around Him", that's another clear message of the Holy
Rule!) changes. It becomes more real and more natural. It changes with
a very clear eye to Whom God is and who we are. It changes from
knowledge born of love and security.
A final little word here about the angels. We are in the sight
of "the Godhead and His angels." Protestant churches which would
not approve of prayer to saints can find ample Scriptural bases for
praying to angels! Again and again we see people conversing with
God's messengers in the Bible. Hence, don't waste 'em! None of us is
so rich as to afford to ignore friends!
Let the angels help. Ask them to help you on your road. The briefest
glance at their Scriptural track record will show one that that is something
they are very good at! Ditto protection. I ask the angels to guard the houses
of all on my prayer list every single night.
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]