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Sept. 7

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Danielle s Mom, awaiting a biopsy and for her family, also for Linda, whose results are not in yet and for Sr. Lany Jo and her Mom,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2003
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      Prayers, please, for Danielle's Mom, awaiting a biopsy and for her
      family, also for Linda, whose results are not in yet and for Sr. Lany
      Jo and her Mom, still not out of the woods. God's will is best! All
      is mercy and grace. Thanks so much. NRN JL

      January 7, May 8, September 7
      Prologue (concluded)

      And so we are going to establish
      a school for the service of the Lord.
      In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.
      But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity
      for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity,
      do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation,
      whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matt. 7:14).
      For as we advance in the religious life and in faith,
      our hearts expand
      and we run the way of God's commandments
      with unspeakable sweetness of love (Ps. 118:32).
      Thus, never departing from His school,
      but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching
      until death,
      we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
      and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.


      Sadly, a certain cynicism has been woven into my life like a
      repeating plaid. Happily, it has not grown worse with age, but has
      been moderated (how Benedictine!) into a faintly acceptable level of
      occasional curmudgeonhood. If my cynicism is now a rather muted
      tartan background, it was not always so. I can clearly recall reading
      the line about expanding hearts and running with unspeakable
      sweetness of love twenty some years ago and thinking: "Yeah, right!
      Real likely..."

      Now that passage is my all-time favorite in the Holy Rule. I thought
      twice before saying that, because there are so many things in the
      Rule that I deeply love, but yeah, this one is the best loved for me.
      Why? Because it is linked to love and, secondarily, because it alerts
      us to the necessary hope that the monastic struggle DOES get easier
      in time, in certain ways, even though it is never over until death.

      "Our hearts expand..." they truly do. Mine has already been
      wonderfully stretched and pulled and enlarged beyond my wildest
      dreams, often with me kicking and screaming every inch of the way. I
      have no doubt that it will grow bigger still, capable of holding
      more, but I know I could not stand that now, it would be too much.
      God works slowly, according to our individual needs. Better than
      anyone, He knows that doing it all at once would reduce us to
      shivering panic.

      The biggest factor that I can see in God's work of heart renovation
      for me has been intercessory prayer and intercession is inextricably
      linked to the morning offering I wrote about two days ago. When you
      renovate a building, you have to tear down some walls, a dusty, ugly,
      painful mess. Ah, but the light and air and space that one finds in
      those new areas where walls had stood! In praying for God's people, I
      learned to love them, more prayer equaled more love and so it
      spiraled upward and spirals on!

      Gerard Manley Hopkins complained of his celibacy toward the end of
      his life, of being "time's eunuch,": "Mine, O Thou Lord of life,
      send my roots rain." I can certainly relate! Though I tried three
      times earlier, I did not become a monk till I was 43. Many of the
      years in between attempts were spent looking for love in all the
      wrong places, often with plenty of fleeting success. You may be sure
      that the "gift" of celibacy left me vastly less thrilled than a child
      with a pony..."Wow! New leg irons and manacles for my birthday! You
      shouldn't have!" Left to my own devices, I would quit tomorrow, or
      maybe this afternoon at the very latest. Single is most definitely
      NOT what I spent my life pining to become one day.

      The rain for my roots was that work in progress, the expansion of my
      heart. It's not the same as other loves I have known and in no way as
      graphic or immediate or intimate, but oh, it is deep. I am sure it is
      not incompatible with married love, but God seemed to want it so for
      me. True to form, I argued with Him for years about that and still do
      at times.

      Like many people, I do not have a spousal love for God, more power to
      those who do, but it has not been thus far possible for me. I am
      often embarrassed to find that the only Christ I can really swell to
      rapture about is the One I encounter in praying for His members, for
      His Mystical Body. I have, however, attained a relative serenity
      about this: it is, after all, a very powerful reminder that Christ IS
      His members, that we are all cells in His awesome Body.

      The English Benedictine spiritual master, Dom John Chapman, used to
      say: "Pray as you can, not as you ought." Christ, of all people,
      knows the limits of my heart. He knows that the numbness within me is
      not willed, but He leaves it there for a reason. I try to shrug and
      say: "Prefect my love and prayer according to Your Will." And I let
      it go at that. It's really in His hands.

      When a novice in my twenties, I used to look at two real saints of
      St. Leo Abbey, Brothers David Gormican and Raphael Daly, both now
      gone to God. I am not even sure I thought it had become easier for
      them at the end of their lives, I thought, with the mindlessness so
      easy for me then, that they were just so old they didn't care
      anymore. Wrong!

      My dear friend Ann Chatlos was a FABULOUS cook and she had been at it
      for years. One day I went to see her and we sat talking in her
      kitchen, she was fiddling around, nothing special. Frankly, I didn't
      even notice any activity that would have produced a meal. She finally
      turned around and said to me: "Stay for dinner." I asked when it
      would be ready and she said, "Now." I was floored. While we spoke, a
      pie, chicken and roast potatoes and something else I forget had been
      going on. A full meal with nothing out of cans and a homemade
      dessert, yet it appeared that she had just been chatting.

      That was the nonchalance of Brother David and Brother Raphael. It
      wasn't that they didn't care, it was that things of sanctity had
      become so much second nature to them that many of those around them
      never noticed that dinner was ready. May that nonchalance of sanctity
      come to us all, and may Brothers David and Raphael and Ann, now also
      with God, pray us there.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      St. Mary's Monastery
      Petersham, MA
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