Holy Rule for June 29
Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul
A very Roman Catholic reminder here: all who use a religious article blessed by
the Pope or any bishop on the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul may gain a plenary
indulgence, under the usual conditions of Confession and Communion within 8
days, freedom from attachment to all sin, and with the addition of the Apostles
Creed to the usual prayers for the Pope's intentions (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)
Prayers, please, for Angelina on her 20th birthday, for graces and blessings and
many happy years to come.
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Father Ruprecht Wolf O.S.B., of Inkamana Abbey in South Africa, for whom we prayed. Prayers, too for all his Community, family and all who mourn him.
Deo gratias and prayers of thanksgiving for Doug, who has been accepted for a substitute teaching position.
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 28, June 29, October 29
Chapter 22: How the Sisters Are to Sleep
Let each one sleep in a separate bed.
Let them receive bedding suitable to their manner of life,
according to the Abbess's directions.
If possible let all sleep in one place;
but if the number does not allow this,
let them take their rest by tens or twenties
with the seniors who have charge of them.
A candle shall be kept burning in the room until morning.
Let them sleep clothed and girded with belts or cords --
but not with their knives at their sides,
lest they cut themselves in their sleep --
and thus be always ready to rise without delay
when the signal is given
and hasten to be before one another at the Work of God,
yet with all gravity and decorum.
The younger shall not have beds next to one another,
but among those of the older ones.
When they rise for the Work of God
let them gently encourage one another,
that the drowsy may have no excuse.
Hastening "yet with all gravity and decorum" has prompted many a
community joke, many a wry comment as one ran most ungracefully,
parts of the habit flapping wildly in the breeze, to whatever the
bell was about to make one late for! St. Benedict far antedates the
Three Stooges, but he still took precautions to ensure that we would
not look EXACTLY like Moe, Larry and Curly when we went to choir or
dinner! Admittedly, some of our human tendency still arises to give a
partial glimpse of that comedic trio, but, as always, the picture is
First off, a practical reason for
the lamp may be found in preventing those whom nature calls from sleep
from tripping all over other beds on their way to answer the call.
Even more importantly, the elderly may have problems during the
night if their health is declining. Hale and hearty (and hopefully easily
awakened!) juniors nearby promise them assistance, if needed. However,
if you want a humorous take on the knives issue, it may have been to
prevent mayhem and murder of snorers, an idea which may have occurred
to many light sleepers!
Of course, dormitory sleeping is a thing of the past in our Order
today, but its nice to see that thoughtfulness behind its original
expression in the Holy Rule. There's a bit of the mother in St.
Benedict, going out of his way to mention a small detail like not
sleeping with knives. It is worthy of note, however, that St.
Benedict, as always is MODERATELY maternal, not neurotically so! He
doesn't get all bent out of shape, but he cares greatly and deeply.
One of the most beautiful images in this passage is the exhortation
to "gently encourage one another" at the hour of rising. Remember
that the strictest silence of all prevailed at this time. Now picture
the monastics gently encouraging one another! With no words, there
had to be a lot of touch, a lot of gentle smiles, a lot of warmth and
care expressed NON-verbally.
A very good idea of how loving a monastic is can be had by disturbing
their silence (or sleep, I imagine!!) Is the reaction cross and
withering? Watch out for that one! Is there a smile, even a warm one,
a reaction of sweetness? Well, when silence is over, that is a
monastic to whose words you may want to listen carefully.
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]